JACKSON’S ARM Humber MHA Dwight Ball said he finds it curious that there still hasn’t been an official closure statement from P. Janes and Sons Ltd. regarding last month’s closure of Jackson’s Arm’s crab plant last month.
Ball, who is also interim provincial Liberal leader, visited the White Bay town over the weekend to meet with town officials concerning the closure to try and work out some closure plans. “We’ve been talking to staff who represent Janes but we don’t have an official letter closing the plant, it is curious,” he said.
The crab plant was one of three seafood processing facilities across the island closed last month, leaving about 300 province-wide out of work. In Jackson’s Arm between 80-100 received pink slips.
The MHA said his meetings with local officials mainly focused on options displaced workers may have, such as other job opportunities within Barry Seafoods, which is purchasing a lot of the equipment from the closing plants.
“We’re going back next week to speak with the companies involved,” he said. “We’ll talk about what direction they’ll want to go in terms of job opportunities and retraining for those who want to do that.”
Locals saw the closure in Jackson’s Arm as the beginning of the end for the area according to Sop’s Arm fisherman Neville Lane. The plant employed people from his town all the way down to Hampden.
The closure’s effect will be devastating for a very large area, with stores and gas stations possibly closing down. As well, school populations could shrink, resulting in education budget cuts and more. The larger areas, he said, need to take notice.
“People still have mortgages here,” said Lane. “Those in larger centres don’t realize that people here will have to find work outside the province in order to service their debt back home, if we lose people, the larger areas lose customers too.”
Ball said he finds it heart-breaking that just a few years ago, Jackson’s Arm had two plants, and the town was quite busy. Processing facilities in Hants Harbour, on the Avalon Peninsula and Salvage, on the Eastport Peninsula were also shut down, in a closure process that Ball said seems to be indicative of the fishery’s future.