The Bella Desgagnés arriving in Kegaska on the lower north shore of the St. Lawrence. Photo Pierre Terrien
Quebec City – A few days before the close of the maritime season, Armateurs du Saint-Laurent (ASL) is drawing a positive balance sheet from its last season, despite a year with many challenges. But Louise Bédard, General Manager, notes that the Quebec government’s new maritime vision is still eagerly awaited, emphasizing that it is « essential » that actions to reduce the labour shortage be included.
By being designated as an essential service from the outset of the VIDOC-19 pandemic, the maritime industry and its workers have played a key role in the transportation of food and materials for Quebecers and Canadians.
Despite a drop in volumes and traffic at certain times of the season and the adoption of new sanitary measures, Armateurs du Saint-Laurent draws a positive balance sheet for the year 2020. ASL has been active in many files at both the provincial and federal levels. COVID-19 measures for maritime, labour, environment, short sea shipping, training, overhaul of pilotage regulations, coasting trade and infrastructures are just a few examples.
« The labour issue remains a priority for the marine industry, » observes the ASL. « As a result, the labour shortage is such that domestic vessels have been temporarily taken out of service due to a lack of qualified and available seafarers. Despite numerous interventions with government authorities, the Government of Quebec is still struggling to recognize the serious labour issues facing our members. »
« This labour shortage is not only a concern for shipping companies, but also for communities that depend on shipping for their supplies, as is the case in the Arctic and on the Lower North Shore. The economic impact is major for the various businesses that gravitate around the maritime sector.
« For more than a year now, the Quebec government’s new maritime vision has been on the verge of being announced. Our members have repeatedly made several recommendations to the Government of Québec. In its brief submitted as part of the consultations on the new maritime vision, ASL also proposed concrete initiatives to the Government of Quebec. »
Louise Bédard said: « We hope we have been heard! We are convinced that the maritime sector has an important role to play in the recovery of our economy. In addition to the investments required in infrastructure and the current labour shortage issues, the protection of our environmental heritage and the sustainable development of our St. Lawrence River remain at the centre of our actions. We intend to accelerate our actions to encourage the Québec government to quickly table this new maritime vision that has long been promised. »