Labour shortage expected from temporary foreign worker rules
Seafood processors concerned they won't be able to take advantage of new market opportunities
The labour supply in rural P.E.I. is not big enough to meet the challenge of supplying new international markets, says the P.E.I. Seafood Processors Association.
There are not enough local people to run the seafood plants on the Island, said executive director Dennis King, and new federal rules mean temporary foreign workers can only make up a maximum of 30 per cent of staff from fish plants.
King is concerned that while new trade agreements, such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Community, are opening up markets, the industry does not have the resources it needs.
"Our processors are challenged to meet existing contracts with the labour shortages they face in rural communities," he said.
"Ramping up production for new markets is just not possible with the current labour supply situation."
The P.E.I. Fishermen's Association is also expressing concern, because if the processors can't handle the fish, it will also be a lost opportunity for fishermen.
Representatives of P.E.I.'s seafood processing, harvesting, and aquaculture sectors will attend the Fisheries' Forum in Moncton this week, which is sponsored by the Maritime Seafood Coalition.
The new temporary foreign worker rules will be one of the issues addressed at the forum.