The northern cod moratorium, initiated in July 1992, was the first of several groundfish closures in Atlantic Canada, marking the beginning of a period of dramatic change in the fishery.
The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy was established in May 1994 to provide income support, labour market adjustment and training options for those affected by the various fisheries closures. It was initially scheduled to run until May 1999, but may end as early as May 1998 due to funding constraints.
Newfoundland and Labrador, which has historically relied heavily upon the fishery for employment, is experiencing the largest impact of the shutdowns in the fishery with almost 28,000 persons, or 70 percent, of all TAGS clients located in the Province.
Approximately 40 percent of the displaced fishery workers in the Province were attached to the harvesting sector and 60 percent to the processing sector.
About 50 percent of TAGS clients participated in TAGS programs including employment interventions, training and counselling.
The reliance upon the fishery, and the eligibility for TAGS benefits, varies widely throughout the Province. The relative impacts of TAGS running out on areas will vary and will be affected by the situation in the fisheries and local economies when the program ends.
In spite of the impact that the groundfish collapse has had on Provincial labour markets, many industry workers have found employment inside, as well as outside, the industry. Other sectors of the fishing industry have been active since 1992 in spite of the moratorium.
In 1996, only 28 percent of program participants reported no income other than that provided by TAGS; about 46 percent received EI and the remainder had some market earnings in addition to the TAGS benefits received.
About 23 percent of those who stopped collecting benefits between December 1994 and May 1996 have received Social Assistance benefits. It cannot be predicted with certainty if a comparable number of future exhaustees will need Social Assistance.
About 60 percent of TAGS clients would be eligible to participate in HRDC programs if they applied at this point in time (either because they are eligible for EI or because of the EI Reach Back provision).
Until December 31, 1997, TAGS clients can use their weeks of TAGS benefits to establish labour force attachment, allowing them to qualify for EI with the minimum entrance requirement of 420 hours.