Compensation for plant workers desperately needed

NDP Leader Earle McCurdy wants to know what, if anything, the province plans to do to relieve the suffering of fish plant workers left without income because of severe pack ice which has delayed the start of fish harvesting this year.

On April 21, the provincial Fisheries Minister said he would seek compensation for “fish harvesters and plant workers impacted by severe ice conditions.” Six weeks later, the federal Liberals announced there would be help for harvesters but not plant workers.

“It’s been almost a week since that announcement and the best we have heard from the provincial minister is that he’ll be part of a delegation going to Ottawa next week,” McCurdy said today. “To do what, I wonder? I sincerely hope he plans to stand up for the people of this province and demand that his friends in Ottawa do something substantive for the thousands of workers and their families left without any income because of a natural disaster.”

A Liberal MP pointed to an Employment Insurance program that the workers would be eligible for; McCurdy notes the program allows for an extra five weeks of benefits, and the plant workers have already been unemployed for two months.  

“Every government has contingency funds set aside for emergencies,” said McCurdy. “This is an emergency. Why the provincial government is not doing something concrete today to help these workers is beyond me.

“Of course Ottawa should be helping, and eventually the federal government should come up with something. But while we are waiting for federal money, we should be doing something for these workers.”

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