First the federal government closed down Skeena fisheries, and now it’s rejecting the applications of local fishermen trying to get employment insurance.
That’s an unacceptable situation, according to Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach, who recently demanded answers in the House of Commons.
“Hundreds of fish harvesters on BC’s Coast applied for Employment Insurance based on the eligibility criteria on the Department’s website. After they applied, the department changed the criteria on its website and now is rejecting their applications,” Bachrach said.
“These fish harvesters have borne the brunt of recent fisheries closures, after years with little or no income, many are just barely hanging on,” he added.
Over 500 local fish harvesters have seen their EI applications denied.
“I’m hopeful the minister can fix this,” Bachrach told the Interior News. “These folks applied in good faith based on criteria on the government’s own website and frequent communications with both DFO and the fishermen’s union.”
But answers weren’t immediately forthcoming in Ottawa, where federal Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard Mike Kelloway failed to provide a straight answer to Bachrach.
“We understand the importance of helping our fishers,” he said. “We’ll continue to be there after the pandemic to ensure that people have the ability to stay afloat.”