Rally to Stop Closure of Maritime Rescue Centre in St. John's

June 24, 2011, 7:40 PM EST

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FFAW/CAW members, alongside other community and union supporters, will hold a mass public rally at 11:30 a.m. (Newfoundland Daylight Time) on Saturday June 25 to protest federal government plans to close a maritime rescue sub-centre in St. John's, Newfoundland. The rally will take place on the waterfront in St. John's, at the foot of Prescott Street.

For years, the centre has provided critical, split-second coordination of search and rescue resources and support for those distressed at sea, including fishers and other workers. The federal government's proposal would consolidate coordination centre operations in St. John's with those in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The move is part of a multi-million dollar budget cut levied by the Harper government on the federal fisheries department. Estimates for the closure of the coordination centre are pegged at $1 million.

FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy, who represents thousands of fishers across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, called the move "unconscionable."

"Saving lives is more important than saving money," McCurdy said. "I just wish our Prime Minister understood that."

McCurdy said the province has seen its share of tragedies at sea and that steps need to be taken to improve safety, not water it down.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said this decision it just another example of how Canadians, from coast to coast, will pay the price of the Harper government's wrong-headed and poorly conceived budget cuts.

"This latest decision goes to show how the Harper Conservatives won't bother to consider what's in the best interest of Canadians, even in matters of life or death."

The 12-person search and rescue operation is based out of a Canadian Coast Guard station in St. John's.


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