Our salmon, our processing: Rice, Cullen

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice took B.C.’s Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick to task over the Canfisco salmon cannery closure last week

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice hammered away at B.C. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick in the legislature over Canfisco’s announcement that the Prince Rupert salmon cannery will be shut down.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice took B.C.’s Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick to task over the Canfisco salmon cannery operation closure announced last week saying 600 jobs will be lost.

“As far as I understand right now, the company is in current review of how many jobs will actually be lost … I understand that the issue of canned salmon is … In this particular case, it’s because the market for canned salmon has come down. Hopefully the company can find other purposes, other uses for their employees,” said Min. Letnick.

The minister then added that without his government saying yes to things like Site C, LNG and the expansion of agriculture and aquaculture, “where would we be in this province?”

“The jobs at Canfisco are jobs that already exist, jobs that are already supporting real families. Tomorrow’s theoretical jobs will do nothing to pay today’s bills,” responded Rice.

Earlier in November, Rice outlined the provincial jurisdiction and powers that Victoria holds in the Canfisco matter.

“Interestingly enough, ocean fish and fishing is a federal jurisdiction when you’re talking about the ocean, but the processing of fish is under provincial jurisdiction, so there is [sic] things that the province could do. The province could implement adjacency policies, so if you take a resource from an area, it needs to be processed or secondary manufacturing industry needs to occur in that area,” said Rice.

“It’s really sad to see this unfold because it’s the same story that we have with the forestry industry. You look up and down Highway 16 and you see all these shuttered mills. Meanwhile we have logs going off to China to be processed … So this is the same story, different resource.”

On the federal side, Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is looking over regulatory options to see if some of the cannery’s positions can be salvaged.

“It was with extreme disappointment that I learned about the Canadian Fish Company’s (Canfisco) intention to shutter its canning operations in Prince Rupert … I have already begun reviewing legislative and regulatory options for addressing systematic issues with the way fisheries are governed in British Columbia and on the North Coast. And over the coming days, I will be reaching out to Canfisco, the UFAWU, as well as the federal fisheries minister,” Cullen said.

“In the long term I am committed to examining ways through which fishermen and fishing communities can exert greater control over this critical public resource.”

In addition, UFAWU-Unifor is urging the federal government to revoke the Jim Pattison Group’s Canfisco fishing licence, since the company is unable to create good jobs with a majority control in the salmon industry.

“Canadians own the resource, pure and simple,” Joie Warnock, UFAWU-Unifor’s western director told CNW Group.

“A corporate licence to fish Canadian waters is not a right, it is a privilege that comes with responsibilities to Canadians. If Jim Pattison Group is unwilling to create cannery jobs, these salmon licences can go to independent and First Nations fish harvesters, like most commercial fishing licences on the east coast.”

 

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