Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for St. John's West for his speech and also for the opportunity to to discuss this very important issue, both for the people of Newfoundland—be they in the hon. member's riding or elsewhere—and the people of my riding, which has been hard hit.
The hon. member was asking what the government intended to do. I think that, first, we have shown good faith in announcing the moratorium on cod and groundfish. In fact, we announced $44 million in short-term measures to compensate for the inconvenience this caused the communities concerned.
This affects a little more than 4,000 people. We realized that these short-term measures could not be put in place overnight. Today, knowing that people are suffering for lack of income, we announced an additional $27 million. Before the short-term measures are implemented, these people will be entitled to income not exceeding $325 a week retroactive to April 27 when the moratorium on groundfish was announced. This is being done to ensure that people do not run out of money before the short-term measures are implemented.
Second, the member told us that more vision is needed. I agree with him except that first it is important to establish and introduce short-term measures to ensure that people have an income. That is the first step.
The second phase will be cooperation with the industry, the processors, the fishers and the plant workers to develop a long term strategy. We will make sure they can stay in other sectors of the same industry. This is the reason behind the recent announcement made by the minister on northern shrimp. He has raised by 30,000 tonnes the allowable catch of northern shrimp, so that workers can turn to other sectors. The shrimp biomass allowed this additional catch.
The hon. member talked about the moratorium in 1991-92, some ten years ago. It has been very expensive for the taxpayer, almost $4 billion. It may have been justified, but we realize after ten years that things are not necessarily much better, even with an investment of $3 billion in the first phase of the moratorium.
This is why we must be careful. We must ensure that these people have a short-term income because they have been hard hit. But, also, it is not only a matter of money. I think that, yes, we will have to put more money into long-term measures, but perhaps we should not repeat the mistake that we made in the first moratorium. We must ensure that, if we invest money, it will be to sustain this industry. These people do not want to depend on governments. They do not want to depend on government budgets year after year. As the member said so well, and I agree with him, these people want to work in the industry.
This is why we are getting involved right away. I agree that these are not long-term measures, because we do not have time. This is why we have an emergency budget and we will quickly begin working on long-term measures. We must not repeat the mistake that we made in the first moratorium and we must ensure that these people have access to a resource that will allow them to make a decent living for the future, without the assistance of governments.