“I am deeply concerned about the job losses and the overall economic impact of the federal government’s decision to close salmon farms in the Discovery Islands,” – Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.
By Fabian Dawson
The job losses that will arise from the closure of salmon farms in British Columbia’s Discovery Islands is ringing alarm bells in the provincial government.
“I am deeply concerned about the job losses and the overall economic impact of the federal government’s decision to close salmon farms in the Discovery Islands,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.
“We have made the federal government aware of our concerns about this decision, which affects not only people and communities on northern Vancouver Island, but also in Surrey where there are numerous business that provide goods and services for this sector,” he told SeaWestNews by email.
“We continue to push the federal government to commit to a strategy to mitigate the economic impact on families and communities in coastal B.C., and we look forward to hearing their plan.”
Kahlon was responding to questions about an economic analysis released yesterday that stated Surrey stands to lose 344 jobs with closures of salmon farms in BC’s Discovery Islands
In addition, the city risks losing $220 million in annual revenue, $46 million in GDP and $24 million in annual salaries, said the report, which described Surrey as “the hub of salmon farming in Metro Vancouver.”
The Surrey Board of Trade also expressed deep concerns about the impact of the Discovery Islands’ decision to Surrey’s workforce.
“What the Surrey Board of Trade will do immediately is to contact relevant federal government contacts to ask for a pause on this decision,” said Anita Huberman Chief Executive Officer of the board.
“A digital Surrey Town Hall event is also planned shortly with the BC Salmon Farmers to educate the public on the matter,” she said.
The decision to phase out salmon farms in BC’s Discovery Islands was made last December by Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, despite her own scientists saying that the marine operations pose less than a minimal risk to wild fish migrating through the area.
She also ignored her deputy minister’s recommendation for a more coordinated approach to the closures, which was primarily pushed for by anti-fish farm activists, many operating from the Metro Vancouver area.
The fish farmers have applied for a judicial review of the minister’s decision and have already won an injunction allowing them to continue transferring their salmon into the ocean farms pending a Federal Court ruling on the entire planned phase out by June 2022.
In its entirety, Minister Jordan’s unexpected Discovery Islands’ decision will see BC losing almost $390 million in annual economic output with $87 million less in annual salaries and benefits, and 1,498 fewer jobs, according to an independent economic analysis.
Hardest hit will be the the coastal communities of North Vancouver Island where the closures over the next 18 months will result in the loss of $379.7 million in economic output for the region, a labour income loss of $84.6 million and a tax hit for the region amounting to $21 million.
A Department of Fisheries and Oceans’s (DFO) spokesperson that Minister Jordan has no intention of changing her decision.
(Submitted image shows workers at a salmon processing plant in Surrey)