Out of touch

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The federal government seems intent on pounding the little guy in this province. Ottawa has caused immense upheaval with recent changes to the Employment Insurance program, which were done with little or no consultation with the areas most affected.

Now the feds have cut the legs from under small inshore fishermen in this province who have had their quotas slashed because of a drop in the resource.

Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea says the science supports the cut and she is just following the long-standing “last-in, first-out” policy.

That means bigger offshore operations will have their quotas reduced less than small operators who dot our shores, scratching a meagre living from shrimp.

No one in this province will argue with the need for quota cuts, but putting an unequal burden on the inshore sector is ill conceived at the very least.

This last-in, first-out policy is just that — a policy, not a law.

It can be changed at the whim of the minister and in this case it should be.

There is a fear that more cuts to the shrimp quotas next year and that will put many small boat operators out of business and into bankruptcy.

As usual, Conservative ministers seem to be out of touch with the way we live in this province.

In this case it’s especially confounding because Shea is from Prince Edward Island and should have the basic knowledge about the frustrations of making a living from the sea in Atlantic Canada.

A provincial all-party committee of the House of Assembly met with Shea Tuesday on this issue and came away admitting they had made no progress getting the minister to change how the shrimp cuts are meted out.

It is now certain that the reductions will stand and fishermen in this province will take a hit that will see many of them forced to move on like so many others before them.

Organizations: Employment Insurance

Geographic location: Ottawa, Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Canada.A

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