Madam Speaker, I would like the member to know that I share his concerns regarding the health of our Pacific salmon stocks.
Protecting Pacific wild salmon is a priority for our government, and that is why we are taking urgent action to ensure that they are sustainable for generations to come and to support the communities that depend on them.
In B.C. in particular, salmon are iconic. They feed people, they contribute to our economy, they feed our southern resident killer whales and they have immense cultural significance to indigenous people. This is why our government has worked so hard to implement the wild salmon policy, return protections that add modern safeguards to the Fisheries Act and create a $142-million salmon fund in partnership with the Province of British Columbia. Obviously there is still a lot of work to do.
Sadly, today many runs are in steep decline as a direct result of a number of factors, including habitat destruction, harvest and the effects of climate change. In 2018, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada reported that eight of 16 salmon populations are considered endangered, four are threatened, one is of special concern and the health of two remain unknown.
Just a few weeks ago I visited Big Bar with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to see first-hand the impact of the rock slide on the Fraser River. This was the minister's first visit to British Columbia as the minister, and the fact that she spent her first days in the province meeting with indigenous communities and stakeholders about wild Pacific salmon shows how large of a priority this is to our government.
The sheer magnitude of the rock slide and the effect on the migration of salmon cannot be understated. The hard work and collaboration on the ground between B.C. first nations, technical experts, the province, industry and other stakeholders has been an inspiring effort and will continue as we move forward.
Recently we announced a contract to begin work on rock remediation to allow for fish passage, come spawning season, and we are hopeful for a long-term solution. This phase of work will go on into the spring and should be completed before the first salmon runs arrive. The work will include breaking up and removing rocks from the site of the landslide, some of which are the size of homes.
British Columbians need to understand the scale of this problem. We are literally working to move mountains. The slide extended from an area that was 35 stories high and as wide as 18 stories across. It has been said that there is enough debris to fill up 10,000 dump trucks or fill the Pacific Coliseum.
We are hopeful that our efforts will be enough to create safe, natural passage for the 2020 runs, but we are preparing for the chance that we need to do more. That is exactly why we have established two technical working groups to help guide our contingency planning. Failure is not an option when it comes to protecting wild salmon, and we will make sure that every possible contingency is examined.
In the case that the slide area continues to present a height or water-velocity barrier in the 2020 season, we will be prepared. Indeed, it has been a particularly challenging year for workers and the families whose livelihood depends on this industry, and we sympathize with them. That is why the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans recently spoke to the Minister of Employment and Workforce Development, and we are working with all our departmental colleagues to explore options available.
The seriousness of this issue cannot be understated. Our government is giving it the level of national importance and attention that it deserves.