UHS employees get ready for a load of fish. (Westerly file photo)

UHS employees get ready for a load of fish. (Westerly file photo)

Ucluelet fish plant looks at hiring foreign workers to fill spots

“Our first choice is employ locals.”

Ucluelet Harbour Seafoods (UHS) has over 100 spots to fill for the 2020 season.

Personnel clerk Alison Mcgee said they’re not just hiring anyone anymore.

“We are looking for the right fit for the right job. There was a philosophy at the plant that if someone shows up, we give them a job. We want to build teams, so our co-workers can work together in a safe environment,” said Mcgee.

UHS general manager Dave Dawson said the Ucluelet plant pays a starting wage of $16.50/hour for fish processing positions.

“You need to be able to pick up 30 pounds comfortably and stack it. There are a lot of jobs here that a lot of guys could do. You need to be able to work long hours and work well as a group because it’s a team effort,” said Dawson.

“Even if you had a physical disability that you couldn’t [lift], we have other jobs you could do,” he continued.

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel remembers growing up in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s when all his friends worked in the industry.

“All the kids that grew up here were down at the docks. It would be nice to see a bit of that come back. It would be nice to see the kids learning to use the forklifts,” said Noel.

He said working at the local fish plants instilled work ethic and drive.

“I hope people take advantage of that and lessen the need for the operator to bring people from out of country to fill some spots,” said Noel.

A recent application from UHS to hire Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) under the Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program was successful. The federal government gave them permission to bring in 40 TFW during the Covid-19 crisis.

“It’s not our first choice. Our first choice is employ locals,” said Dawson.

“We would love to be able to put that program on hold for a year. We would love if we employed a bunch of locals. We have the hotels if people from Nanaimo or Victoria want to come up and live in the hotel,” he said, adding that UHS secured staff housing at the former Thornton Motel.

According to Dawson, UHS is in the process of bringing in 20 TFW from Mexico. The Mexican fish processors would arrive in Ucluelet towards the end of May and follow quarantine guidelines.

“The [TFW] would not leave the hotel room for 14 days. We would take daily temperatures. They would be paid 40-hours a week during this time,” Dawson said.

He said the new TFW from Mexico would be on a different program then the Fijian workers that have lived in the community for years.

“These TFW, just like the agriculture business where they come in the country for 180 days, they work and they have to leave. We cannot apply for a temporary residency on this program.”

“We’re going to follow the rules. I don’t want anyone sick in our plant. We need to protect the safety of our team,” Dawson said.

UHS re-opened its facility on April 22 with solid Covid-19 precautionary measures put in motion.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ: Ucluelet’s major fish processing plant re-opens with COVID-19 safety plan established

READ: ‘Underwhelming’ support for agriculture industry: BC Fruit Growers’ Association

READ: Four temporary foreign workers on separate flights to B.C. test positive for COVID-19

FishForeign workersucluelet

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Harbourview Apartments on Third Avenue (popularly referred to as “The Frigstad”). ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Port Alberni city council to discuss Harbourview Apartments in-camera

Owner of the property failed to meet Nov. 12 deadline

Josie Osborne was sworn into the Legislature virtually on Nov. 24. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne named minister of municipal affairs

The position was previously held by Selina Robinson, who is the province’s new finance minister

Rori Denness throws a javelin during BC Summer Games in 2016. (Black Press Media file photo)
Port Alberni ponders bidding for 2026 B.C. Summer Games

Port Alberni last hosted the BC Winter Games in 2004

Victoria artisan Tina Neurauter, right, used to shop at Pot Luck Ceramics with her daughter from Port Alberni. Now Neurauter is selling her handmade soaps and bath products at Bibi J’s, a new enterprise in the former Pot Luck Ceramics building on Gertrude Street in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Former Pot Luck Ceramics location reimagined as Bibi J’s

Owner Helma Swinkels revives social enterprise with new name, vision

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a suspect who wore a black-and-white striped hoodie and rode a yellow mountain bike when he allegedly stole three children’s backpacks from a daycare facility. (Photo submitted)
VIDEO: Thief steals children’s backpacks from daycare in Nanaimo

Suspect rode a yellow mountain bike and made off with backpacks hanging on fence

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Klahoose First Nation village on Cortes Island is under lockdown until further notice due to a positive COVID-19 test. Photo courtesy Kevin Peacey.
Cortes Island First Nation community locked down due to positive COVID-19 test

Klahoose First Nation has had one positive test, one other potential case

Ladysmith’s 1st Avenue will be lit up until January 15. (Cole Schisler photo)
Light Up parade a no-go, but Ladysmith’s streets are still all aglow

Although the tradition Light Up this year was cancelled, folks can still enjoy the holiday lights

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Most Read