Judy Foote, MHA for the District of Grand Bank and Opposition Critic for
Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, is pressing the provincial
government to fast track assistance they committed for former workers of the
closed fish plant in Fortune.
Terminated employees are requesting
emergency job creation programs from the provincial government to enable
them to support themselves and their families and remain in their community.
Information requested from the workers by the provincial government has been
submitted, but there has been no word on when any job creation initiatives
will be rolled out.
"Despite questioning today in the House of Assembly, I still was not able
to get any clear answers on the nature of the assistance or any guaranteed
time lines from the minister," says Foote. "While he may not appreciate the
urgency of providing this assistance, I am reminded each and every day as I
speak with my constituents, particularly those affected by the shut-down of
the plant, of the need for some meaningful opportunity to replace the income
cold-heartedly snatched from them by their former employer.
"In the next three months, 196 more people will be without income and
time is not a luxury these people have. Not only is it essential to have a
prompt response from government, affected residents also need to be
reassured that any program provides them with more than the basic minimum
wage. Those who have worked with Fishery Products International (FPI) have
been use to a higher income and naturally, they are concerned about a
significant drop in their income. The suggestion that there may be an EI
extension is cold comfort for those workers over 50, who constitute the
majority of those who were cold-heartedly terminated by FPI. EI extension
simply means the continuation of EI if a person wishes to be retrained. This
is not an option for the majority of those affected.
"It is urgent that the provincial government rustle up every ounce of
effort, determination and resources to fast track this income relief. The
people of Fortune and surrounding communities who depended on FPI for
economic stability already have had to endure a great deal of turmoil. At
this point, some form of stability in their lives would be reassuring to
carry them through these challenging times. I will continue to press this
government to live up to their responsibility."