Wednesday, February 5, 2020

"When will relief come for these communities?" MP Elizabeth May raises salmon crisis issues in House of Commons

Green Party MP and former Green leader Elizabeth may raised issues
of the British Columbia Fishery on Monday in Parliament

The former leader of the Green Party sought out some answers for First Nations and those working in the British Columbia Fishery on Monday in the House of Commons, as Elizabeth May called on the Federal Government to address the crisis in the salmon fishery.

Rising during the last minute of the Monday Question Period, the MP for Saanich and the Gulf Island addressed her question to Prince Minister Justin Trudeau asking:

"The B.C. salmon season of 2019 was a complete disaster. It constituted an emergency situation for many indigenous peoples for whom salmon is a staple food of deep cultural and spiritual significance. For the fishermen, tendermen and shore-workers, it is an economic disaster.

These groups wrote and asked the government before the election for emergency salmon relief. The United Fishermen and Allied Workers' Union and The Native Brotherhood of British Columbia have still had no answer. When will salmon relief come for these communities?"

In reply, the Prime Minister noted how many runs are in steep decline and reiterated the Liberal government's commitment towards protecting Wild Pacific Salmon.

Mr. Trudeau also sympathized with members of British Columbia First Nations, fishery workers and their families, observing how a range of Federal ministers are working with Indigenous communities and stakeholders to ensure that salmon stocks are protected.

The Prime Minister did not however, offer any indication as to the progress on the letters of urgency that were forwarded to the Fisheries Minister and other Federal Ministers prior to the Federal election of October.

As we relayed back in October, UFAWU-UNIFOR had taken the concerns of the Northwest to the Cabinet Ministers, seeking immediate assistance for those who have borne the brunt of the decline of the fishery in recent years.

October 28 -- With federal election over, UFAWU-Unifor continues forward with calls for Disaster Assistance for North Coast fisheries workers
October 9 -- 'Everyone is in the hole, everyone is desperate': UFAWU-Unifor's Thorkelson to City Council on fishery issues
September 17 -- Union fears fish workers becoming a political football

The call for immediate assistance goes back further, with UFAWU-UNIFOR raising the most recent alarm back in August.

Some six months after the union spoke to the immediate need for assistance, there has still to be any answers offered up, let alone any action towards the issue.

While the Federal government may be offering reassurance that when it comes to the fishery they are on message, for the North Coast it's been very much a case of out of sight, out of mind.

The region has not seen a visit from a Fisheries Minister in many a year, now working through at least the third Federal Fisheries Minister who has been handed the file.

Perhaps it's time for someone to come get some first hand information.

For more items of note on Fishery issues see our archive page here.

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