CARLETON – There is some uncertainty about whether foreign labourers will be allowed to work in Gaspé Peninsula fish processing plants in April. The concerns are due to new regulations restricting the presence of citizens from other countries because of the coronavirus. The matter is also relevant in agriculture and tourism. Most of the foreign workers coming to the Gaspé Peninsula are Mexicans. In his speech on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated that the country’s borders will now be closed to foreigners with the exception of Americans.
A few minutes later, during a conference call with the regional press, the Member of Parliament for the Gaspésie-Magdalen Islands riding and Minister of National Revenue, Diane Lebouthillier pointed out that the “matter (of foreign workers) is relevant,” that “the situation evolves quite rapidly,” and that between Canada, the United States and Mexico, “no border will be closed.”
Bill Sheehan, vice-president of E. Gagnon et Fils, says that 55 Mexicans are expected to arrive in the Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé area on April 2 to join the local labour force. The plant hired a total of 550 people in 2019. “They will be put in quarantine as soon as they arrive on April 2, and they will be available for work on the 16th. I checked on Sunday (March 15) and it still worked. Considering what Prime Minister Trudeau just said (on March 16), I don’t know. We will check with the firm that is advising us in that field and we will know tomorrow (March 17),” says Sheehan.