FFAW-Unifor President Earle McCurdy has called on the federal government to pay extended Employment Insurance benefits, or the equivalent, to fish harvesters on the northeast coast of the province who have been kept ashore by heavy ice conditions.
McCurdy said the persistent ice in some areas of the province is causing severe hardship for many families.
“Enough with monitoring the situation, it’s time for action,” McCurdy said.
A news release notes that, according to MP Scott Simms during the House of Commons debates earlier this month, many people have had no income for about a month which is affecting the harvesters, crews, and hundreds of plant workers.
In 2007, the federal government set aside $7.9 million for a special ice compensation program in areas affected by the heavy ice conditions. Eligible recipients were paid $377 per week — the average of fishing E.I. payments.
Similar programs had been implemented in 1974 and 1990 when unusually heavy ice conditions caused a delay in the start-up of the fishery.
Approximately 300 fishing enterprises in inshore areas, as well as some offshore harvesters, have not been able to fish at all this season.
Ice is expected to persist for at least two or more weeks in many areas.