FFAW, mayors launch campaign to promote rural issues

Just weeks before a provincial election, two mayors joined with the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union to launch a campaign to support a renewed rural Newfoundland.

Fishery the 'economic giant' of the province, says FFAW leader

The president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union announces the launch of a campaign to promote rural issues. (CBC)

Just weeks before Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial election, the fisheries union is starting a campaign to promote rural issues. 

The campaign is called Rural Works, and it is focused on the importance of the fishery to rural towns around the province.

"The reason we were settled here is because of the fishery. The reason we remain here is because of the fishery," said Fish, Food and Allied Workers president Keith Sullivan at a news conference Thursday.  

"It remains a primary economic driver …worth over $1 billion to our province. We think it can be worth much more," said Sullivan.

Twillingate mayor Gordon Noseworthy says spinoff from fishery is "unreal." (CBC)

Twillingate mayor Gordon Noseworthy said while his town has a thriving tourism industry, the fishery is a mainstay.

The shrimp plant there employs up to 140 people but Noseworthy said it's about more than paycheques.

"When these boats come in, the groceries they pick up in supermarkets is unreal. They eat the best," said Noseworthy, laughing. 

"Then it's the gas, cigarettes and beer, don't forget that."

Old Perlican mayor Bruce Button says hundreds of people from all over the province work in two fish plants there. (CBC) (CBC)

Bruce Button, the mayor of Old Perlican, said there is still a major spinoff from the fishery in his community, where two fish plants employ workers from all over the province. 

"The number of people that come in during the summer months that service some sector or another, whether it be engine repairs to boats or vessels, or equipment at the plants, I mean this has the potential to be a large generator for the rural areas of Newfoundland," said Button.

The FFAW said the campaign will bring together a coalition that includes fish companies, town leaders and businesses. Sullivan said the group will lobby for better pay for rural jobs, and work to bring people back to rural communities.

While many of the issues identified, such as quotas and adjacency, are federal, Sullivan said the province has control over infrastructure.

The Rural Works campaign will be non partisan, he said.  

The group did not provide any detail about how it will get its message out or how much money it will spend.

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