As minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, I am writing in response to a letter to the editor titled “Where’s the ice compensation?” by Liberal fisheries critic Sam Slade that was published June 28 in The Telegram.
Slade stated “the provincial government still has no plan in place to negotiate a deal with its federal counterparts to provide ice compensation.”
From the provincial government’s perspective, there is no negotiating to be done.
Repeatedly, this government has demanded federal financial support for workers impacted by severe ice conditions that have delayed fishing activity.
In news releases issued on May 1 and May 21, in letters sent to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Employment and Social Development Canada, and in discussions with federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea, I have implored the immediate implementation of a compensation program, and emphasized the fact that this kind of compensation has been made available in the past by the federal government.
Slade also stated the provincial government is dragging its heels on this matter. I remind the fisheries critic that the federal government is constitutionally required to manage the fishery through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Employment and Social Development Canada is responsible for administering employment insurance.
Is the Liberal fisheries critic suggesting that the provincial government should consider stepping into the federal government’s role when the federal employment insurance fund stands at tens of billions of dollars and can be used to address such situations?
Is that the kind of fiscal prudence the people of the province could expect from the Liberal party — to let the federal government off the hook?
I was pleased to see Slade state that the Official Opposition has finally contacted the federal minister of Fisheries and Oceans seeking reinstatement of a program similar to the Ice Compensation Program put forward in 2007.
This government has already been lobbying for compensation for more than two months, but any support from the Liberal fisheries critic and the Official Opposition in this matter is welcomed, and better late than
Keith Hutchings, MHA
Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture