Dear Seamus: All Seasonal Workers Want for Christmas is Dignity and Respect

December 28, 2023 – ST. JOHN’S, NL – This Christmas season, seasonal workers in Newfoundland and Labrador are in crisis due to a failure of the federal government. Despite months of broken promises, the federal government has largely failed to support seasonal workers facing financial crisis this winter season. 

 This Union signalled the coming crisis to the federal government back in April when the markets for snow crab collapsed. At the time, FFAW-Unifor proposed needed changes to the federal employment insurance (EI) system and income supplements for all affected fish harvesters and plant workers. 

“The crab fishery came and went, and just as the fishing season began to wind down and folks prepared to file their annual EI claims, the federal criteria for EI changed. The change meant all of those hours and weeks of work were suddenly worth a lot less in the eyes of the federal government,” says FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “When previously 14 weeks was needed for a top claim, suddenly 16 were needed when there was nothing left to fish or process. Earnings needed for fishing claims went up by $400 for each claim. Claim amounts were reduced by up to $400 – that means in families with two seasonal workers, monthly incomes are down by up to $800,” explains Pretty. 

 On November 14, 2023, following months of waiting for a solution, the federal government announced a four week benefit extension for seasonal workers – not including fish harvesters. 

 “With no change to the EI divisor, families are still in crisis and are still trying to make do with significantly less, in a time when everything costs significantly more,” Pretty says. “Our federal government has failed seasonal workers, they have failed coastal communities, and they are failing our province,” Pretty says. 

Courtney Glode (she/her)
Director of Public Affairs

T: 709-576-7276

M: 709-743-4445
368 Hamilton Ave.

St. John’s NL A1E 1K2

[email protected]