Eight Mowi Canada West warehouse employees were terminated today (March 10) with eight weeks working notice and severance.
Four of the affected workers were from Campbell River, with the other four from Port Hardy. The workers were stationed in five facilities between Campbell River and Port Hardy.
Dean Dobrinsky, media relations for Mowi, confirmed the news and said the terminations were due to the Dec. 17, 2020 decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to end salmon farming in the Discovery Islands. “This had a real and immediate impact, resulting in approximately a 30 per cent loss of Mowi Canada West’s business. With that, we are undertaking a full look and full restructuring of our business to allow us to focus on cost effectiveness, operational excellence, and focus on our core business, which is growing salmon.”
With the cancellation of fish farms in the Discovery Islands, part of the restructuring of the company meant “looking at our warehouse and logistics, which were designed to support a much larger company,” said Dobrinsky. “We have decided to further align with Aquatrans [a company whose expertise is logistics and land transport], and they will be taking over our warehousing and logistics as of May 4, 2021.”
At the end of the eight weeks working notice all of the impacted workers will be given severance, which Dobrinsky said is “vastly exceeding the employment standards requirements to make sure the employees can transition.”
He added Aquatrans is currently posting for positions, and the employees who presently work for Mowi will have a “good opportunity to transfer their skills to Aquatrans, should both parties be interested.”
Dobrinsky added while the company has been getting extensive support from local governments and North Island MLA Michele Babchuk, they have not been getting similar support from North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney.
“MP Blaney has been very clear that she’s not supportive of ocean based salmon farming,” Dobrinsky stated, adding the company is “doing everything we can to maintain these family supporting jobs here in the North. We are doing everything we can to stop the damage.”
Blaney has said previously she has “consistently supported the transition of fish farms to closed containment systems since before I was first elected in 2015” and that “Our wild salmon are struggling and this [fish farms] is one factor of many, but it is an important one that we need to act on.”
When asked to comment, Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas said it’s “absolutely heartbreaking to hear that it’s already starting to affect us up here, but it’s just the start. We said there would be repercussions [from the Discovery Islands decision] here in the North Island, and we’re still trying to have these conversations with Minister Jordan and the province to slow down the process and make a transition plan that works for the future.”
Dugas added he feels that Campbell River, which Mayor Andy Adams calls the salmon farming capital of the world, is also going to be “hit really hard by this.”