Video: Jennifer Rice questions Minister Letnick on CANFISCO Closure

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J. Rice: Last week we learned that Canfisco is shutting down its salmon-canning operations in its Prince Rupert plant. This will result in 600 direct jobs vanishing from Prince Rupert. The loss of indirect jobs is more than double that. These jobs, salmon jobs, are a crucial part of our identity and culture as a community.

My question is to the Agriculture Minister. Why has your government been silent in the face of this crisis in my community?

Hon. N. Letnick: As far as I understand right now, the company is in current review of how many jobs will actually be lost. Every job that’s lost in this province, of course, affects not only the family that is impacted by the companies as well.

I understand that the issue of canned salmon is…. In this particular case, it’s because the market for canned salmon has come down. Hopefully, the company can find other purposes, other uses, for their employees.

I find it galling that the members opposite would actually be complaining to us on this side of the House about economic policy. If it wasn’t for this side of the House saying yes to things like Site C, yes to LNG, yes to the expansion of agriculture, yes to the expansion of aquaculture, where would we be in this province? I can tell you I’d rather have the problems on this side of the House than have them, on the other side of the House, in control of our economy.

J. Rice: The jobs at Canfisco are jobs that already exist, jobs that are already supporting real families. Tomorrow’s theoretical jobs will do nothing to pay today’s bills.

Local families depend on these jobs. First Nations people up and down the Skeena River and along the north coast come to Prince Rupert to work these jobs.

We know that north coast salmon is still going to be canned. It’s just not going to be canned in British Columbia. Jobs are being shipped overseas. What is this government going to do today for families that need jobs now, and will this government take action to ensure B.C. salmon creates B.C. jobs?

Hon. N. Letnick: It’s really important that the members opposite understand that we are concerned for every job in British Columbia. That is why we have a jobs plan. We have to diversify our economy, and we’ve done that on this side of the House.

We’ve had record increases in the amount of GDP impacted by agriculture and aquaculture.

Hon. N. Letnick: So $12.3 billion, a record year. It’s a 5.9 percent increase over the year before, which is also a record increase from the year before that. Increases in tourism, stronger technology — the list goes on and on.

On this side of the House, we are here to be job creators. On that side of the House, they say no to everything.