Both the FFAW and provincial NDP have released statements condoning the exemptions and have highlighted the effects the announcement will have on rural communities.
According to a press release from the FFAW, OCI will now be able to ship yellowtail, redfish and American plaice to low wage countries for processing.
Keith Sullivan, President of the FFAW-Unifor, said that the decision is a “slap in the face” to plant workers and rural communities.
“Our province should be focused on maximizing employment and adding value to our natural resources as a means of building the economy, not padding the bottom-line of OCI,” he said.
Sullivan also noted that with the increased number of groundfish, the government should be looking to increase the province’s processing capacity.
“The decision to issue these exemptions just throws that opportunity away,” said Sullivan.
Provincial NDP leader Earle McCurdy also voiced his concern, calling on the premier to make a formal announcement concerning the exemptions.
McCurdy highlighted the effect the decision would have on rural jobs.
“What future is there for coastal communities in the province if big companies are allowed to ship jobs overseas?” asked McCurdy.
OCI last received exemptions in 2012, striking a deal with the government that would give them access to yellowtail in return for committing 110 full time positions at a plant in Fortune.
Both releases note that when Premier Dwight Ball was the official leader of the opposition, he was highly critical of the government’s decision to grant exemptions to OCI.
“Now he’s doing exactly what he blasted the previous government for, but he’s doing it on a much bigger scale,” said McCurdy.
OCI currently has plants in Triton, St. Lawrence, Riverport, Port aux Choix, Fortune and Bonavista.