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Change needed in how we run the fishery in Canada…

 

It is upsetting to read headlines on the CBC – Lobster prices two dear: processors. The pricing panel set the starting price at $4.26 per pound, which processors say they will not buy and will lose money. It was only last season this same group of processors could not afford to buy crab at $1.35 per pound set by the pricing panel. Fogo Island Co-op was the only company willing, and they got dispelled from the association. Yet in Nova Scotia crab could be purchased at $1.85 per pound.

Is it our closed marketplace? The few processors have a monopoly? Should we look at changing the legislation? Having a free market and allowing outside buyers?

Lobster is a delicacy and no harvester can continue to make a living at the low price of $3.00 or $3.25 per pound, especially with escalating operating costs. My father was a small boat fisher, catching lobster. The price 15 years ago was higher than what it has been in recent seasons.

I remember passing the seafood section in London, England in 2007. The price of lobster fo 16.00 GBP or about $34.00 CDN. I purchased a lobster tail on a beach stand for $9.00 CDN. If you go fine dining lobster ranks up there with the fine cuts of beef.

Why have we devalued the lobster? Are we failing to market our quality products and getting into more value-added? And why are we unable to pay the harvester a fair price? Something has to be done to ensure more certainly and better management of the fishery. Hon. Clyde Jackman, Fisheries Minister for the Province needs to work with newly elected Federal counterparts and all stakeholders.

The fishery continues to be the backbone of the rural economy. We must implement corrective measures to ensure that our rural communities can continue to remain sustainable. The amount of dollars may be small to many of these larger producers but every cut to fish species and reduction of price has resonating impacts to Rural Newfoundland & Labrador economies.

Together we can make great change for brighter tomorrows.

Live Rural NL from Las Vegas -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Escalating Gas Prices Continue to Leave Local Consumers Poorer, especially in Rural Regions

The Newfoundland & Labrador Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities, released the maximum Petroleum Prices on April 14, 2011. For my region, self-service gasoline reached $1.40 per litre and full-service gasoline is $1.43 per litre.

http://n225h099.pub.nf.ca/orders/ppo/fuel/Fuel_110414.pdf

Rural Newfoundland & Labrador has few options when it comes to the usage of gasoline, as there a limited public transportation options.

The fishing industry  is the mainstay of the rural economy on the Great Northern Peninsula. 2011 started with a positive outlook, which included significant increases to the price of crab and shrimp. However, the Federal Government announced a significant reduction to the shrimp quota.  This is an unacceptable cut that will add stress to our local rural economy. Additionally, a number of fisherpeople will continue to feel the pinch, despite rising prices for raw material product, they are also seeing significant increases for fuel. This pinch is also felt by those in working in forestry, tourism and basically all other industries. Just announced this week, Aeroplan was increasing the number of reward points required to fly certain distances. The article noted that increases in the price of fuel was a factor in their decision-making.

Local workers and commuters pay more to get to work, which will affect take home pay. Escalating gasoline prices will increase inflation, and we will in turn see higher prices on virtually all products. More has to be done to provide relief to consumers. Earlier this week, CBC News reported, “Power price hike expected”. There is currently an application put forth to the Public Utilities Board to approve a rate increase of 7% that will be passed directly on to the consumer ( http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2011/04/15/hydro-power-hike-pub-415.html). We already had an increase in electricity rates and there is no end in sight, especially with a major capital cost of developing the Lower Churchill. I would only guess that electricity rates will continue to rise to assist with that development on a frequent basis. These gradual increases will be a burden to rural regions and continue to hinder our growth and development. The Energy Corporation of the Province should continue to develop smaller local projects to displace the reliance on oil, this may include harnessing wind energy, tidal energy and bio-energy, as they pursue Muskrat Falls. We appear to have lost momentum on diversifying our ability to become a renewable energy powerhouse and have opted to place all of our eggs in one hydro-electric basket.

 We continue to rely heavily on oil and pay a significant amount in taxes for a Nation and a Province that has an abundance in supply. Why are we not meeting our local needs first and selling the  excess in the global marketplace? I took the photo to the left, while at a gas station in Northern Ireland in November 2010. The price of fuel was 1.198 Great British pounds (~$1.93 per litre). This is quite high; however, like many other European countries they are not an oil-producing nation. When I visited Egypt (an oil rich nation) in 2007, my driver filled up the car at a rate of 0.75 piaster/lt, which at the time was approximately 16 cents per litre Canadian. Where is the balance?

The Provincial NDP Leader, Lorraine Michael held a recent news conference demanding the removal of the Harmonized Sales Tax on Home Heating. I agree with her stand, as it seems unfair to have to pay a tax on an essential such as warmth for your home. Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador will be signing the petition and if you support this cause, sign the NDP Petition to Remove the HST from Home Heat by clicking here.

We are simply paying too much for gasoline and home heating fuels. As consumer’s we must reduce our reliance on these fuels and opt for alternative energy sources. Many ruralites burn wood to heat their homes and offset their energy costs. Others will begin to convert to wood pellets. Many users of oil will have no choice but to convert to other energy options, as the price is $1.10 per litre locally. When it comes to driving our vehicles in rural areas we will have to find solutions to getting to destinations, whether it is carpooling, ride sharing, telecommuting, downsizing vehicles or trying to establish more public transit options. Through this period of change and transition, we must continue to lobby government to reinvest in local community projects to enhance and diversify the local economies of the Great Northern Peninsula, as well as all regions of Rural Newfoundland & Labrador. During a period of government prosperity, greater attention in needed to spur development in economically depressed regions. Ignoring the issue will only result in greater hardships in the future.

Together there are solutions to provide a brighter future for our rural economy.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher C. Mitchelmore

Transportation Forum Outlines the Infrastructure Challenge

“Some of the challenges undermining the strength of our rural communities flow from deliberate interventions in the economy over the years by governments at all levels. If governments have created many of the conditions that damage rural sustainability and viability, they also have the power and the obligation to intervene in ways that strengthen these communities and enable them to survive and thrive in the modern world. This article argues that rural communities have an indispensable role to play in the economy, and there is nothing natural about letting them die” (Roger Fitzgerald, MHA, Autumn 2005/ Canadian Parliamentary Review).  
 
With the Ferry terminal situated in the backdrop, the venue was the upper room of the Straits Arena, St. Barbe. Approximately 70 people from across the peninsula, the province and beyond came together to discuss and identify new business opportunities  that correlate with the opening of the Trans Labrador Highway in December 2009. This event hosted by the Nordic Economic Development Board and Red Ochre Regional Board brought politicians from all stripes and levels, business owners, organizations, community groups and the public at large.
 
Mr. Wallace Young, MHA for the District of St. Barbe called this transportation link a “milestone” which will bring opportunities. 
 
Mr. Marshall Dean, MHA for the District of Straits-White Bay North projected the importance of transportation connections. He noted that we must meet challenges and seek new opportunities. 
 
Mr. Gerry Byrne, MP for Humber-St. Barbe -Baie Verte daringly noted that transportation is the cornerstone, the life blood of all economic and other activity. There are issues when it comes to access to markets, goods & services, Marine Atlantic and others; the challenges are HUGE…but so are the opportunities. 
 
There were diverse and dynamic speakers representing water, air and road transportation. However, the message was clear that we need an advanced transportation & communication network to be competitive in a global marketplace, which was re-iterated during a presentation given by the Northern Peninsula Business Network. The role of Government includes investing in infrastructure in both urban and rural regions, primarily education, healthcare, highway improvements/ maintenance, human resources and various other government services. There is a need for improved infrastructure across the country, especially in rural regions. This infrastructure is more than just a bit of pavement, it includes communications – power wires, telephone wires, fiber optic cables, various wireless technologies and everything need to make these utilities functional. 
 
Many communities in Economic Zone 7 is yet to experience high-speed internet access and 11 communities in Zone 6 still does not have such an access. I work in an office building that does not have high-speed service. Can you imagine the challenges and inefficiencies? I contacted Bell Aliant today asking about their free upgrade to high-speed ultra for my residence. The response, “sorry you are not in a region in which we offer such a service”. The implications on our current small business operators and attracting new investments can be devastating. For instance, point of sale purchases (POS), answering emails, placing on-line orders, uploading video and even hosting a website becomes a daunting chore.  Canada may be a very rich country and Newfoundland & Labrador may be a “have province”, but we have a lot of catching up to do. If we are to prosper in the future we must invest heavily in our current communications and transportation shortfalls.   
 
Challenges Facing Rural Communities: A Newfoundland & Labrador Perspective by MHA Fitzgerald was quite an interesting read. It stated, In Newfoundland & Labrador, as in some other areas, transportation is a key infrastructure challenge. Sir John A. Macdonald recognized that constructing a rail line from west of the Rockies to eastern Canada was an investment in Canada’s viability and sustainability as a nation. It was enormously expensive, but far cheaper than the alternative of letting the idea of Canada disintegrate into a collection of remote, disconnected states. 
 
 The transportation aspect of the article illustrated how the initiative “opened up”, therefore creating opportunities for rural communities. It is difficult to compare with the opening of the Trans-Labrador Highway to the completion of the rail line connecting all of Canada, but for the residents who live near these regions or will use this new route, certainly  feel the impacts. More trade can now occur, whether it be agriculture, fish products, timber products, value-added products or small-scale manufacturers. 
 
“Over 95% of Canada’s natural and environmental resources are located in rural Canada. Many of Canada’s major industries – agriculture, fishing, forestry, mining and energy – rely on rural communities,” Fitzgerald’s article notes. When we look at Newfoundland & Labrador, populations may be moving towards the Avalon Peninsula. However, the city is a service center, made possible by the resources that exists from the rural economies.   

Therefore, if our transportation networks are not up to par, we will lose our ability to be competitive in the global marketplace. It is evident that our transportation networks are failing us, especially in the rural regions. We can not continue with such neglect, as rural Canada’s infrastructure needs are continuosly eroded or the needed investments never made. Rural areas are the regions that feel the most pain because of this neglect.

MHA Fitzgerald states, “I believe as a nation we need t revisit the thinking of Canada’s first Prime Minister and share the burden of bringing the country’s transportation network into the 21st century”. I agree with the Honourable Member.

Rural regions need an advanced transportation and communications network. We must lobby governments on all levels to make such investments in the appropriate infrastructure. “Infrastructure is essential to economic diversification. and diversification is integral to sustainability. A region is best-position for survival if it has many oars in the water at once.”  This is a very logical argument. Newfoundland & Labrador’s rural economies have been typically built around natural resources and one-industry towns. We have certainly experienced the devastation of boom and bust when an industry shuts down or fails us. The Cod Moratorium of 1992, Abitibi Bowater closing its Mill in Stephenville, and later Grand Falls – Windsor to name a few.

To build stronger communities, a stronger Canada – a greater focus must be placed on rural regions despite our increasingly urbanized world. If we do not focus on investing in the rural economies, as Canadians we will all suffer if we just ignore the current infrastructure challenge that is only getting worse as the days go by… 

Live Rural NL – CCM  

 

 

 

Save Our Rural Economies: Traditional Social Values vs. Generation Me

This past week or so I have been participated in Heritage Festival Events & Activities, worked and taken some time to spend with my family. It was a nice change of pace and am now more focused than ever to continue with my frequent blog updates.

While away I picked up a book called “Generation Me” by Jean M. Twenge, Ph. D, which studies what in means to be a young individual in today’s society.  The book cover states, “youth today are confident, assertive, entitled – and more miserable than ever before.” My interest peaked to read about her findings, as I too fall under her category of growing up in the 1970′s, 1980′s and 1990′s.

Youth today certainly have a different mindset and way of thinking. There is now an expectation that we will go to university or college. However, for many rural Newfoundlanders & Labradorians, youth born during these decades will be the first or second generation of their family to attain this level of education. Previously, it was expected one would simply follow in their family footsteps;  a male would enter the fishery during summer and cut logs for Bowaters (to become Abitibi-Bowater, currently in receivership) in winter, as well as many other duties in between. A woman’s role would be mother, housekeeper, educator, family nurse, cook, seamstress, gardener and more. Although, many people of the past did not receive official degrees or apprenticeships from post-secondary institutions, the amount of knowledge, skill and practical common sense they did acquire certainly is to be recognized.

Today, most youth in rural Newfoundland are not choosing to follow in the footsteps of their parents, grandparents and fellow members of the community. Many youth would love to have the ability to remain and Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador if employment opportunities and adequate level of services existed. The current provincial government is making strides and investing in youth, especially through the Youth Retention & Attraction Strategy, although it is not enough.

There are great challenges in our primary rural industries (fishery & forestry), that even today sustain  rural Newfoundland & Labrador, which are constantly in crisis. The Provincial Government must intervene, working with all stakeholders (this includes the general public). Measures can be taken to stabilize the fishery and forestry, with appropriate planning and action. In relation to the fishery, restrictions are too rigid on time regulations imposed on fisherpeople and improper resource management gluts the marketplace providing poor prices and increases the cost of doing business for both processors and harvesters. It is time to remove the hold of the merchant system that has plagued the fishery and stagnated growth of Newfoundland & Labrador for hundreds of years. Government recently announced millions for studying fisheries science. This is good, but I ask government, where are your millions of dollars to invest in a near billion dollar industry that sustains our rural economies? Change is needed now, work with stakeholders and the public to address our issues.

After reading the Northern Pen newspaper today, it is disheartening that a shrimp processing plant is struggling to provide 130 employees acceptable employment. The domino effect means their families, businesses and communities in the region are also affected as shrimp landed off the coast is being trucked off the peninsula. It is difficult for young people to choose Rural Newfoundland & Labrador in the current climate as a place to live and work. Generation Me suggests that youth want to achieve and be rewarded, reap benefits early in life and maybe even hope to be famous. We were nurtured to believe we can accomplish anything, right? Well even in a challenged rural economy on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, I along with others have hope and optimism. As citizens we can and will achieve, no matter what age the birth certificate states!

As a young person living in Rural Newfoundland,  I ask that we stand up and fight for social justice as I see my neighbours and community members see their incomes eroded, some bankrupt and others forced to re-settle. Generation Me is trying to influence society and we can, but let us not forget about traditional social values that are the fabric of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Together we must share our experiences, challenges, ideas and work together to bring forth a strong unified voice to The Powers To Be (TPTB) to ensure we can continue to Live Rural Newfoundland  & Labrador.

Let’s Save Our Rural Economy -

CCM

Today, a younger co-worker and I discussed Sociology in Newfoundland & Labrador.

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