Evidence of meeting #9 for Fisheries and Oceans in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was harvesters.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Nancy Vohl
Timothy Sargent  Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Jean-Guy Forgeron  Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

5 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you again, Minister, for being here and answering a lot of tough questions.

Minister, my concern, which I raised with your department last week, is around foreign licensing. Can you talk about the impact foreign licensing is having right now on our commercial fleet during COVID? I know that many of the harvesters are looking for some fairness in terms of a better deal in the breakdown of the leasing of that quota. For example, some harvesters have leased based on last year's market price. They're locked into those deals before they even leave the dock. They're locked into a price that's way above what the market is right now, because those global market channels are shut down or are very slow-moving.

Has the government looked at maybe a fifty-fifty split that it can mandate so that local Canadian fishers and harvesters are able to survive this season?

5 p.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

I'm going to turn this over to the deputy minister.

5 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Timothy Sargent

I'm going to turn it over to Jean-Guy Forgeron.

5 p.m.

Jean-Guy Forgeron Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

As I mentioned last week, the department doesn't have a global policy on foreign ownership, one policy across the country. We have no particular foreign ownership rules on the west coast, and we have two sets on the east coast: one for the inshore fishery, which has no foreign ownership, and then one—

5 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

I'm focused on the west coast, sorry. I'd like your response to that.

5 p.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Jean-Guy Forgeron

As a result of the comments and deliberations of this committee last year on the west coast licensing information, we decided, as a department, to launch a pan-Canadian policy review on the issue of foreign policy ownership to see what the right answer is, not only from a national perspective but also from a regional perspective. We launched that work recently.

5 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Can we get a commitment from the government that it's going to at least start making sure Canadians know who owns those fishing licences and where those people live outside the country? Will it stop the sale of quota outside of Canada so that Canadian fishers get priority in buying licences? This question is for the minister.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

I'm going to turn that over to the deputy minister.

5 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Timothy Sargent

We're well aware that transparency is very much lacking in this area. We do need to do more work to establish the actual beneficial ownership of these licences. As Jean-Guy said, we've launched policy work that will very much focus on that, as well as on other issues of foreign ownership of licences.

5 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

I'll just say that—

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Kenneth McDonald

Thank you, everyone. We've gone a bit over time.

I'll give a big thank you, of course, to the minister for being here for the second day in a row and taking all the questions from the members of the committee. It's not every day that we get to see the minister two days in a row, or any department, for that matter. I thank the officials as well. I know it's not easy to carve out this amount of time with such a large contingent of staff, so a big thank you to all of you.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Bernadette Jordan Liberal South Shore—St. Margarets, NS

Thank you very much, everyone. I want to thank Chris d'Entremont for inviting me to his place for lobster tonight.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Kenneth McDonald

We'd all go, but he's social distancing.

Thank you to the committee for your indulgence over the last two days. I look forward to seeing you all again on Tuesday. Have a good weekend.

The meeting is adjourned.