Idea floated for smaller retirement program

Rob Antle
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Province could fund 'plant by plant' plan

The province is eyeing a smaller, more targeted, early retirement program for fishery industry workers, according to Fisheries Minister Tom Hedderson.

"I don't want to flow it out there with any degree of certainty, except to say that the union has made representation, the industry itself has made representation, and we must take these under consideration," Hedderson said this week.

Fisheries Minister Tom Hedderson

The province is eyeing a smaller, more targeted, early retirement program for fishery industry workers, according to Fisheries Minister Tom Hedderson.

"I don't want to flow it out there with any degree of certainty, except to say that the union has made representation, the industry itself has made representation, and we must take these under consideration," Hedderson said this week.

"Because I think it's obvious to all that the federal government is simply not interested in that. So we may have to take another direction."

For years, the province has been lobbying Ottawa to take on 70 per cent of the costs for an early retirement program for Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries workers.

The province would cover the other 30 per cent.

Previous estimates have put the overall cost of such an initiative at up to $100 million.

The province's share could be as much as $30 million.

The Williams government has resisted calls in the past to come forward with its share of the cash, even without federal involvement.

But, according to Hedderson, the province is at least considering that option now.

"Maybe we could become more specific in some adjustments - maybe area by area, plant by plant," the minister noted. "Again, that's just a thought."

Hedderson noted that union officials have suggested a "plant by plant" retirement strategy.

The government is open to the idea of carrying out a cost-benefit analysis of the idea, he said.

In the past, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers' union (FFAW) has argued that an early retirement program is necessary to open up opportunities for younger workers, and to strengthen the jobs of those who remain.

FFAW president Earle McCurdy said Friday it's "abundantly clear the feds are not interested in putting a cent in" for early retirement.

McCurdy acknowledged that a plant-specific approach is one of the options broached with the province by the union.

He said it is "encouraging" the province is at least considering moving forward with a retirement initiative of its own.

In 2007, Premier Danny Williams expressed concern that the province's fish-processing industry could collapse within five years due to an aging workforce, and younger workers moving out West for jobs.

At the time, Williams said the absence of an early retirement program would lead to "a serious problem" in the industry.

Williams pressed for federal support of the early retirement initiative in letters to federal party leaders during recent election campaigns.

Those pleas have largely fallen on deaf ears.

Newly minted federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea recently threw cold water on the idea.

"A lot of times when you think about a retirement package it's because there's not enough work, but if it's simply to retire to make room for someone else, then I don't think that's something that would be very high on a priority list," Shea told The Telegram in a November 2008 interview at her Ottawa ministerial office.

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Allied Workers, The Telegram

Geographic location: Ottawa, Newfoundland and Labrador

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Richard
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Fish processing is within the province's jurisdiction. Why should Ottawa pay any of it, let alone the lion's share? And if fish plant workers get an early retirement package, how about the people who work in our sawmills? What about the loggers who are our of work and retirement age? What grounds does the government have to pick one group for special treatment over any other?

  • tim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    This Danny Williams and his Government are so void of ideas, it is like there is no tomorrow . Retirement, retirement, retirement is all this Gov can entertain, they are lost in a sea of stupidity and arrogance. What has happened to all the development ideas that went before this Gov came to power. Where are all the armies of development associations and zonal boards. The minister, Dunderdale, approach to forestry regulations (laws) is an example of the lack of knowledge of that Minister. Others are just as bad. Of course our star resource , fishery is a sick situation to behold. Every policy of this Gov is a policy to shut down this province, send our work force to another province and leave all old people to pay the bills.

  • Don
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Right on Doug. I'm sick amd tired of hearing the fisherman whining all the time. Why did they not put some of their earnings into RRSP's over the years like the rest of us had to do. And don't tell me they had no money. Everytime you turn around government is giving them a handout.

  • Slowy going
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Fish plant workers were offered the option of paying into a pension plan, and voted against it. Now the rest of us are supposed to give them a free pension?
    Why do we have to fund our own pensions, but the fish plant workers don't?
    It is long past time that we stop treating the fishery like it was some sort of holy cow: these fish plant workers never work or worked a full year in their lives, never paid into a pension scheme, and have ALWAYS been a drain on the public purse.
    enough is bloody well enough.
    Let them earn their own way, just like the rest of us.

  • Bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    I wouldn'ty put any stock in this story. After all Heddersdon doesn't want to flow it out there with any degree of certainty . That in itself is a mouthful of nothing, even for a two-bit polititian.

  • Doug
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    This is the sort of thing that makes Newfoundland look so bad in the eyes of so many other Canadians. It seems like we are always bumming money from Ottawa for fisherman and fish plant workers. It's no wonder then that everyone assumes that's all we do here.

  • Richard
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Fish processing is within the province's jurisdiction. Why should Ottawa pay any of it, let alone the lion's share? And if fish plant workers get an early retirement package, how about the people who work in our sawmills? What about the loggers who are our of work and retirement age? What grounds does the government have to pick one group for special treatment over any other?

  • tim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    This Danny Williams and his Government are so void of ideas, it is like there is no tomorrow . Retirement, retirement, retirement is all this Gov can entertain, they are lost in a sea of stupidity and arrogance. What has happened to all the development ideas that went before this Gov came to power. Where are all the armies of development associations and zonal boards. The minister, Dunderdale, approach to forestry regulations (laws) is an example of the lack of knowledge of that Minister. Others are just as bad. Of course our star resource , fishery is a sick situation to behold. Every policy of this Gov is a policy to shut down this province, send our work force to another province and leave all old people to pay the bills.

  • Don
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Right on Doug. I'm sick amd tired of hearing the fisherman whining all the time. Why did they not put some of their earnings into RRSP's over the years like the rest of us had to do. And don't tell me they had no money. Everytime you turn around government is giving them a handout.

  • Slowy going
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    Fish plant workers were offered the option of paying into a pension plan, and voted against it. Now the rest of us are supposed to give them a free pension?
    Why do we have to fund our own pensions, but the fish plant workers don't?
    It is long past time that we stop treating the fishery like it was some sort of holy cow: these fish plant workers never work or worked a full year in their lives, never paid into a pension scheme, and have ALWAYS been a drain on the public purse.
    enough is bloody well enough.
    Let them earn their own way, just like the rest of us.

  • Bob
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    I wouldn'ty put any stock in this story. After all Heddersdon doesn't want to flow it out there with any degree of certainty . That in itself is a mouthful of nothing, even for a two-bit polititian.

  • Doug
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    This is the sort of thing that makes Newfoundland look so bad in the eyes of so many other Canadians. It seems like we are always bumming money from Ottawa for fisherman and fish plant workers. It's no wonder then that everyone assumes that's all we do here.