Judy Foote, Opposition Critic for Innovation, Trade and Rural Development
and MHA for the District of Grand Bank, says government has been ineffective
in pressing the federal government on the issue of an early retirement
package in the fishery.
"When I raised the issue in the House of Assembly
this afternoon, I was surprised to discover that neither the current
Minister of Fisheries, nor the previous Minister has written the federal
government on this issue," said Foote. "The FFAW and its members have been
constantly pressing the provincial government to move forward on an early
retirement package and, rather than writing to the federal Minister of
Fisheries with information regarding what would be required of the federal
government if they were to partner on such a program, the provincial
government has only played lip service with the file. According to answers
given in the House of Assembly today, nothing has been put in writing and we
are expected to believe that because one minister mentions it to another it
will be acted upon. This shows that the provincial government has not taken
the issue of an early retirement package seriously and to suggest that the
province has committed the 30 per cent required when it doesn’t appear
anywhere in the provincial budget is misleading to say the least.
"Such a program will give people currently employed in the fishery the
opportunity to retire earlier than they would otherwise be able to afford.
The previous provincial Liberal government committed the required 30 per
cent and had the necessary paperwork completed when the provincial
government changed. This government should have followed through with that
supporting documentation instead of sitting on its hands. The federal
government has to be a partner in such a program and it is the
responsibility of the provincial government to ensure they are supportive.
It is time for Minister Rideout to show leadership and impress upon his
federal counterpart the importance of this program.
"It is not acceptable that, after two years in office, this government
has not even written Ottawa to request a meeting or action on this item. It
is yet another indication of the government’s refusal to deal with issues
facing the fishery and rural areas of our province. This issue will not go
away because it is too important to those who are depending on it in order
to retire from the fishery with dignity. If, as the previous Minister of
Fisheries said, fewer people in the fishery is needed to make it a viable
industry, then why is the government dragging its feet on an initiative that
could make it happen?"