Canadian News

Lobster season starts today with students replacing foreign workers

With lobster season set to open in New Brunswick today, and processing beginning on Sunday, workers are in demand. Normally foreign workers fill this gap.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY
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High school and middle school students in New Brunswick won’t have trouble finding work this summer, but may replace those foreign workers who are usually employed during lobster processing season, and will do the jobs themselves. This per CBC News.

With lobster season set to open in New Brunswick today, and processing beginning on Sunday, workers are in demand. Normally foreign workers fill this gap. New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said that the 600 vacancies in fisheries this year could be filled by those New Brunswickers who are unemployed, as well as students on summer break.

Seafood plants in New Brunswick who normally process the lobsters were out of luck this year with the coronavirus restrictions and border closures that have stopped foreign workers from coming in to take the work. Premier Higgs blocked foreign workers, though Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island fisheries have the workers they need.

Westmoreland Fisheries owner Russel Jacob said that in prohibiting the usual influx of foreign workers, the province “pulled the rug from under our feet.”

But Higgs said that those New Brunswickers who are unemployed, as well as students, can take the work that usually goes to foreigners.

The students, however, don’t necessarily want the work. Only 25 students showed up for an orientation at the plan. Jacob said that when they start, they will be given the lowest skilled jobs available, and that his own 13-year-old son will be working alongside them.

It was when students heard that the young man would be working, that applications began coming in. “When they all heard my son was working, well then word got around and they started applying,” said Jacob. “It’s good money for them, but it’s only a patch, temporarily for us.”

Luc Doiron, of nearby Suncoast Seafood in Grande-Digue, does not have tons of confidence in the young workers, noting that high school students don’t tend to stay on the job for more than a few days.

Doiron said that under pre-pandemic conditions, the fishery would hire 120 additional workers. This year, he was only able to find a few locals to help out, although another 20 students from Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia will be joining the work at the fishery as well. The jobs come with a $13 per hour wage.

Higgs announced the ban on foreign workers earlier this month, which has led to difficulties for farmers who tend to employ them. Higgs has also extended the state of emergency in that province, despite there being no new coronavirus cases.

Lobster season was set to begin May 1, but was delayed two weeks.

However, reopening has begun.

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