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Results: 1 - 15 of 122
Keith Sullivan
View Keith Sullivan Profile
Keith Sullivan
2020-06-17 15:20
Thank you and good afternoon, Mr. Chair, and members of the committee.
My name is Keith Sullivan. I'm here on behalf of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers-Unifor. FFAW represents nearly 15,000 working women and men throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. Most of our members are employed in the fishing industry and are spread out in more than 500 communities all around the province. About 10,000 are fish harvesters and some 3,000 are employed in fish-processing plants.
COVID-19 has had a serious impact on our province's fishing industry. Some fisheries were delayed by more than a month, at what would have been the beginning of valuable snow crab and lobster seasons, due to safety concerns related to the pandemic.
Now that fisheries are up and running in Newfoundland and Labrador, market challenges are severely impacting incomes. To put it in context, last year the fishery was worth $1.5 billion to the provincial economy. The snow crab fishery was worth $350 million in 2019. Entire fisheries, such as northern shrimp, are in jeopardy due to impacts from COVID-19. Losses related to the pandemic could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. For small coastal communities, this is devastating.
Fisheries workers continue to be concerned about safety on the job, and how a shortened season will impact their income. Both harvesters and plant workers rely on employment insurance to supplement their incomes during the off-season.
With most harvesters expecting a significant decline in earnings this year, many were rightfully worried about qualifying for benefits once the season ended, and were relieved to hear the federal government's announcement on changes to fishing EI, so that harvesters can use the previous year's earnings to qualify in 2020, in addition to the new wage subsidy and grant for fishing enterprise owners.
Unfortunately, since the federal government's announcement last month, no further details on changes to fishing EI or details on the other harvester benefit programs have been released. This has created massive frustration and anxiety for harvesters. Each day our union receives dozens and dozens of calls from our members looking for information or clarification on these programs. While we understand that changes to EI and the rollout of these programs won't happen overnight, the challenges facing our industry are impacting harvesters today. They can't wait any longer to know how these programs will help them and their families.
Right now, most independent owner-operator harvesters in our province can't avail themselves of the CEBA. This must be fixed. We have young harvesters who have just invested huge amounts of money, sometimes millions of dollars, in gear and boats, for example, and now they can't access a program that will help them get through 2020 in order to participate in the financial recovery.
Fish-processing workers will face similar struggles. These workers rely on seasonal EI benefits and were left out of the federal announcement to support fish harvesters. Like harvesters, processing and other fisheries workers are on the front lines, providing fresh, high-quality seafood to domestic and international markets, feeding coastal communities and supporting fishing families.
Given the delays in the fishing season and market challenges that have limited the amount of seafood we will process and export this year, many processing workers will not have enough hours to qualify for adequate EI, or will have extremely low benefits to carry them through until next year.
These workers will need support from the federal government, either through changes to seasonal EI, similar to the recent changes to fishing EI that will ensure they will qualify based on last year's insurable hours, or by adjusting the program in consideration of the pandemic. An example would be to decrease the number of the best weeks in the calculation of benefits.
In terms of other federal policy that I believe will safeguard the inshore fishery, the new Fisheries Act offers some opportunity.
For Newfoundland and Labrador, it's not hyperbole to say that the fleet separation and owner-operator are two of the most important economic development policies for our coastal communities. These policies have kept the viable inshore fleet in place and have provided significant wealth to every corner of our province.
Many billions of dollars have originated and remained within coastal communities because of owner-operator and fleet separation policies. They have succeeded in widely distributing fishing incomes, and play an integral role in our tourism industry, sustaining a vibrant cultural and social fabric in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
However, corporate interests, both domestic and foreign, have influenced and interfered with the application and enforcement of fleet separation and owner-operator policies. As a result, corporations have gained control of fishing licences and are siphoning the wealth and benefits of inshore fisheries from our coastal communities.
In light of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to enforce these policies, particularly given the economic uncertainty facing fish harvesters.
Amendments to the Fisheries Act adopted by Parliament last year give these owner-operator policies the force of law. Enforcement will be more robust, with legal consequences. By changing this policy into law, the federal government acknowledged the principle that the inshore fishery should be guided by what is best for independent owner-operators and coastal communities, not corporate interests. This is a principle that we must protect now more than ever. Action to eradicate these under-the-table controlling agreements that undermine our coastal communities and economy must be taken now.
The inshore fishery is the primary economic driver in the majority of the coastal communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. Jobs in the fishery provide good middle-class incomes in rural communities, which is why support for the industry in the short term is so critical.
Protecting and promoting a fishery that serves communities, addresses challenges in food security and provides good wages and safe workplaces—these must be the priorities for all levels of government and all stakeholders in our industry if you want to come out of this pandemic with vibrant, sustainable coastal communities and an economy where nobody gets left behind.
Thank you.
View Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Profile
I would like to thank the Minister and those with her for being here.
Madam Minister, I ask myself this question: if the global health crisis had occurred at a different time of year, would the impact on the fishing industry have been any less catastrophic? In any event, there is nothing we can do to change things.
Has your department assessed the impact of the pandemic on the fishing industry in general, but particularly on the sharp decline in fishing income?
View Bernadette Jordan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Thank you for the very, very good question. Of course, since the onset of the pandemic, we have been working to address the issues immediately because we know that's what we need to do. This is an immediate concern. One of the things we have seen, of course, is where there are gaps within the sector, within the industry, and how we can best fill those as we go forward. I have said from the start that there has to be an immediate response, then a mid-term response, and then a long-term response to the industry and what it needs.
We're going to continue to work with the industry to fill the gaps and to find where the challenges are. We have seen things like the programs that are in place in agriculture; we don't have an equivalent in fisheries. These are all questions we're asking ourselves now, and how we can best go forward to continue to grow our industry.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Thank you, Chair.
Thank you, witnesses, for your testimony. It's greatly appreciated. I might start with Mr. Calla if I could, quickly.
Mr. Calla, what is the value of the economic activity created by the 75 communities included in your analysis?
Harold Calla
View Harold Calla Profile
Harold Calla
2020-06-05 11:28
The value is in the billions. What we have done is we have taken the revenue streams that have been presented in financial statements. The Financial Management Board receives five years of financial statements from about 280 clients across the country. What we have begun to do is an analysis of those, because I don't think this information is widely known by anybody: What is the value of the economic activity in first nation communities and how would you measure that? When you get to the point that it's a billion dollars a year and you look at how you monetize that and ask what is the impact, that's really what our intention is.
We hope that in the future we will be able to do all 300 communities that we have financial information for. It really points to the need for a statistics institution to be able to provide this kind of data and information. We were quite surprised, in the 75 communities that we picked at random, by how big it was, and I don't think that many of us really understood that and understood that the first nation economy plays a lot of value in the gross national product of Canada and surrounding regional economies.
It's in the billions, Mr. Schmale.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Oh, I can imagine. Will you be doing further analysis and data collection? If the answer is yes, when once completed, would you be able to submit those results to this committee?
Harold Calla
View Harold Calla Profile
Harold Calla
2020-06-05 11:30
We are currently undertaking for all of the clients we have now a full analysis of what they're doing. I expect it's going to take about six weeks. When we're finished, we will produce a report similar to the one you received today that would include everybody, so yes, we will.
View Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay Profile
Mr. Chair, the aerospace industry is a strategic sector that plays a fundamental role in the Quebec economy. It's a pillar of economic nationalism that makes us shine internationally.
In Quebec, the aerospace industry represents more than 200 businesses, 42,100 jobs and sales totalling more than $15 billion. In addition, 80% of our production is exported. It should also be noted that 70% of Canadian research and development in the field is carried out in the greater Montreal area.
This pride is followed by great concern. Planes are on the ground, and orders have been cancelled. The aerospace industry has been hit hard by the Canadian stock market since the start of the year. Revenues are falling, and workers are being laid off. Furthermore, last month, the Institut du Québec denounced Ottawa's absolute neglect of this industry. We will quickly need a major, sustainable policy to revive this extremely important sector.
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
To our witnesses, I just want to thank all of you. This is a truly fascinating panel, and you provided really important testimony to us.
I'm today in the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, and I'd like to acknowledge that.
Mr. Daniels, I'm going to start with you. You've said that every dollar invested in first nations is equal to six in terms of impact in the general economy. I was wondering if you could quickly expand on that.
Ernie Daniels
View Ernie Daniels Profile
Ernie Daniels
2020-06-02 18:39
Recently there was a study done in southern Manitoba that looked at leakage. This is for every dollar that's spent. When they did their study, they looked at net contribution to the economy. The first nations in Manitoba are net contributors to the economy. I think the general population sometimes thinks that we are net takers from the economy, but we're actually not. There are tremendous amounts of revenues being generated as a result of activities going on in first nations communities.
Jeff Nielsen
View Jeff Nielsen Profile
Jeff Nielsen
2020-05-29 14:12
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Erin Gowriluk and I will split our time, and I'll quickly make my opening remarks.
Once again, thank you for this opportunity to speak in front of your committee today. I am Jeff Nielsen, and I farm in central Alberta near Olds. I am chair of the Grain Growers of Canada, which is a national voice for grain, oilseed and pulse producers through our 15 regional and national grower associations.
To put it simply, we are extremely disappointed in the support offered to farmers to date. The recent $252-million announcement directed limited funding to select sectors while leaving others feeling totally ignored. Let me be clear: We do not expect to be your main or sole focus right now, but we also do not want to feel like an afterthought.
We do not have to look far to see a different level of support for agriculture in the face of COVID-19. Our direct competitor to the south has offered agriculture a support package that is well into the billions, with $6 billion recently going directly to crop producers.
For the benefit of the committee, let me give you some background on the state of the grain industry. Certain grain commodities, such as corn, have been significantly and directly impacted by COVID. With a decrease in demand for fuel, ethanol plants are running at a very diminished capacity. We do not expect a return to normal anytime soon. Soybean cash receipts have fallen nearly 40% over the last two years.
I am a malt barley producer. Malt barley demand is down significantly due to to the fact that the restaurants and hospitality industry have been affected by COVID, which has naturally decreased the demand for beer. Barley cash receipts are down 21% in 2020 from the same time last year. Malt contracts are being pushed well into the fall for the current crop year, and new crop contracts have been asked to be reduced due to the fact that we currently have an oversupply of malt barley.
Feed prices are very volatile. It's a reflection of what may happen to the U.S. crops and will definitely affect their feed prices. Flaxseed cash receipts have dropped 33% in the last year. Demand for pulses has remained stable, but there is the concern with the lack of container shipping, a problem complicated by the rail blockades this past year, port quarantines and decreased cargo ship movement at this time.
A regular amount of uncertainty is typical for us farmers—we plan for this—but these are not normal times. Recent years have been disastrous for many of us, in terms of weather, rising costs and growing market access challenges. In fact, Canadian farmers were not well positioned going into this pandemic. According to StatsCan, in 2018, farm incomes fell by nearly 21% while realized net farm income fell by 45%.
While StatsCan data from this week shows a rise in income for 2019 for the first time in three years, that does not give an accurate picture of agriculture. Excluding cannabis, which seems to be a new agricultural crop, crop revenues on the national level have decreased by over 1%.
View Matthew Green Profile
With significant impacts to the hospitality and service sectors, which generally pay lower wages, is this affecting women more than men?
Yves Giroux
View Yves Giroux Profile
Yves Giroux
2020-05-29 11:55
That's also something that my 21-year-old daughter has pointed out to me. Women have been disproportionately affected by this COVID-19, and efforts for recovery should clearly keep that in mind.
View Matthew Green Profile
In recognizing that, does that also extend to racialized communities?
Yves Giroux
View Yves Giroux Profile
Yves Giroux
2020-05-29 11:56
That's also a good point, but it's not something I've looked into personally.
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