N.L. announces $5.5 million to help plant workers
Fish plant workers in communities across the province will have the opportunity to earn needed insurable hours through short-term employment that the provincial government is funding to the tune of $5.5 million.
Premier Dwight Ball was flanked by Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne and Municipal Affairs Minister Eddie Joyce at the Sir Richard Squires Building in Corner Brook on Aug. 21 as he announced the funding, which comes as a result of the employment challenges faced by processing plant workers due to declines in shellfish resources and severe sea ice conditions.
The money will be administered by Municipal Affairs and won’t be a direct handout to plant workers.
Instead, the province will reach out to impacted companies, communities and residents to provide information on available supports and determine eligibility for assistance. The result will be a series of projects undertaken that affected plant workers will be hired to work on.
In the past there’s been criticism of such programs as being “make work projects.”
Byrne said there will always be a certain level of criticism or cynicism whenever employment supports are provided.
“The fact is, is that these employment programs do support significant valuable communitybased projects that assist the economy of the region, that assists the overall well-being, the quality of life in communities and the economic capacity of communities to be able to generate new jobs and new opportunities.”
Byrne said the province also has the responsibility to be compassionate as it is dealing with a group of workers who, through no fault of their own, have faced an economic and employment circumstance which put their livelihoods in jeopardy. Shrimp and crab quotas have been reduced, resulting in less work in the plant.
He said the province will make good use of the resources to make sure great projects are done, people have access to employment, that employment will produce revenue for them and their families and their communities will then be sustainable.
A suite of supports is also available under the Integrated Transition Framework for Displaced Plant Workers. This multi-departmental program is designed to respond to communities and individuals impacted by fish plant closures, providing transitional employment assistance and counselling services to better prepare for future employment opportunities.
Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne (centre) announces $5.5 million in provincial funding to assist fish plant workers as Premier Dwight Ball (left) and Municipal Affairs Minister Eddiy Joyce (right) listen in Corner Brook Aug. 21.