Protected Marine Areas—Compensation for Fisheries Workers
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the minister. Minister, on February 3, I asked your predecessor a question regarding the government's plan to expand marine protected areas fourfold by next year, 2017. More specifically, I asked him whether the communities affected by this decision would be compensated. I did not get a clear answer. All he said was that the government planned to hold consultations.
Minister, my question is quite simple. Does your government plan on fully compensating fishers and workers in the communities affected by your decision to create new protected marine areas, and, more specifically, have you determined how much that compensation will cost? Have you consulted with the finance minister to ensure that the necessary amounts are provided for in the next budget?
Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Senator Carignan, as you mentioned, our government made an ambitious promise to substantially increase the size of our marine protected areas, whether under the Oceans Act or other measures that designate marine protected areas. You are right. This will be more difficult in some areas than others, particularly when it comes to the commercial fishery. Many fishery stakeholders have spoken to me about this.
We are in the process of determining where exactly these marine protected areas will be located in order to meet our objectives of increasing them by five per cent by next year and 10 per cent by 2020. In so doing, as you said, we must respond to various concerns. During my discussions with fishery stakeholders and government representatives, who shared exactly the same concerns as you, I promised to work with them to properly compensate those affected. I remain cautious because I have not yet discussed this with the finance minister and there are many ways of compensating them. There may be other species, other areas or other stocks that can provide other solutions for these industries.
We are not necessarily opposed to the idea of compensation. However, we will work with the provinces and the entire industry to find the best possible way to make sure that the workers whose livelihoods depend on our marine resources will always be able to contribute to Canada's economy. That being said, I can assure you that we will reach our targets as expressed in the mandate letter given to me by the Prime Minister.