On Friday, Canada’s minister of transport, Marc Garneau, in collaboration with the Canadian marine community, announced the establishment of the National Seafarers’ Welfare Board.
As part of Canada’s commitment to the International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention, the National Seafarers’ Welfare Board will act as a forum for coordinating seafarer welfare in Canada. It will promote maritime workers’ access to recreational, cultural and medical services, as well as shore-based welfare facilities. The board will also advise the government on policy and regulatory issues such as shore leave and crew changes.
Seafarers are essential workers
“The Government of Canada recognizes the important role seafarers play in moving people and the many goods Canadians rely on every day. Keeping them safe as they work to support Canada’s economy — even during challenging times — is an important priority,” the government noted in a release on Friday.
The board is composed of representatives from labour unions, marine missions located in ports across the country, shipowners, terminals, ports, and agents representing foreign vessel owners in Canada. Transport Canada will act as a secretariat.
The board’s first elected chairperson is Debbie Murray of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities. She is supported by co-chairs Peter Lahay of the International Transport Workers’ Federation and Dr Jason Zuidema of the North American Maritime Ministry Association.
“Seafarers are essential workers. Having a national, multi-stakeholder forum supported by Transport Canada that is dedicated to improving seafarers’ welfare, sends clear and positive signals to the mariners I interact with daily that Canadian marine stakeholders care,” Murray said.