DFO reverses award of Arctic surf clam quota to NB First Nation, NS partner - Canadanewsmedia
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DFO reverses award of Arctic surf clam quota to NB First Nation, NS partner

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The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has reversed the controversial decision to award 25 per cent of the lucrative Arctic surf clam quota to a company led by a New Brunswick First Nation and its industry partner.

In February, then fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc announced the department was handing a licence to Five Nations Clam Company, led by Elsipogtog First Nation and Premium Seafoods of Arichat, N.S.

The move was touted by the Trudeau government as an act of Indigenous reconciliation. But it also faced criticism from rival First Nations who bid on the quota, including one that launched a court challenge, and anger from Clearwater, the Nova Scotia seafood company that had held a monopoly on the fishery.

On Friday, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced in a news release it will no longer issue the licence to Five Nations. The news release gave no reasons for the decision.

The department said it will launch a new bidding process next year and submissions will be evaluated by an "independent third party" that will make recommendations to DFO. It said it expects that whomever is chosen to receive the licence will begin fishing in 2020.

The Arctic surf clam is a bright red tongue-shaped seafood that is exported to Asia for sushi. The new First Nations quota — some 9,600 tonnes a year — was a prize worth tens of millions of dollars.

The Anne Risley has a 450-tonne hold for Arctic surf clam. It was built by Clearwater before it was told that part of its quota was being handed over to a company with Indigenous partnerships. (Robert Short/CBC)

The decision to award it to Five Nations was challenged in Federal Court by a rival, Miawpukek First Nation based in Conne River, N.L.

The case revealed the confidential details of the more than half-dozen proposals the federal government received and how it evaluated each.

The records filed in court showed Five Nations was only 25 per cent Indigenous owned with the remainder in the hands of Premium Seafoods.

The band dropped its legal challenge in June.

During a cabinet shuffle last month, LeBlanc was replaced in the portfolio by Jonathan Wilkinson. LeBlanc is now Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade.

Read more articles at CBC Nova Scotia

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BC government to bring lower transgender surgery to the province

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VANCOUVER — Gwen Haworth says she always knew her gender identity, even when she was very young, but coming out about 18 years ago was a hard choice made even harder by a lack of services in her home province.

Between 2001 and 2004, Haworth said she went back and forth between Montreal and British Columbia to get gender-affirming surgery.

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The difficulties Haworth faced will soon be a thing of the past after the British Columbia government announced Friday it will provide reconstructive lower surgery for transgender people.

“Access to care was pretty fragmented, and very challenging, and hard and time consuming and costly,” said Howarth, a member of the trans community and project manager for Trans Care BC.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the trans community has advocated for a number of years for the complex surgery to be done in the province.

Up until now, those wanting the surgery had to travel to Montreal or the United States, which Dix said resulted in additional medical risks associated with travelling long distances after surgery and with follow-up care.

The Health Ministry says gender-affirming surgery will be available at Vancouver Coastal Health starting next year and trans people will also have improved access to publicly funded chest and breast surgeries in Burnaby, Kamloops, Kelowna, Port Moody, Prince George, Vancouver and Victoria.

Dix said B.C. is the first province in Western Canada to provide lower surgery.

The government says about 100 people travel out of the province for lower surgeries every year and about 200 chest and breast surgeries are expected to take place in B.C. in the coming year.

Haworth said improving access to care will have a ripple effect through society.

Gender affirming surgeries, where a person’s physical body is brought into alignment with how they identify, whether it’s male, female or non-binary, came with a stigma, she said, but Friday’s announcement fosters a welcoming environment.

“It improves people’s lives and health outcomes.”

During those three years when she needed care, Haworth said the costs came in many forms. Time was taken away from her family, friends, education and work. She said she had to pay for some services herself and getting reimbursed was a challenging process. Haworth said out-of-pocket expenses worth about $35,000 were never paid back.

She also had to sell her home.

“And when I look at the place I owned at that point in time, and I move 15 years forward in the Vancouver housing market, that means I actually had to say no to over a quarter million dollars of potential well-being at this point in my life.”

The Health Ministry says the surgeries will be covered as part of the province’s B.C. Surgical and Diagnostic Imaging Strategy, which is getting a $25 million funding increasing in 2019-20 to $100 million.

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BC becomes first western Canadian province to fund gender-affirming lower surgeries

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Starting in 2019 transgender people in British Columbia will have access to publicly funded gender-affirming lower surgeries within the province. With the change British Columbia will become the first province in western Canada to offer these procedures.

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“The trans community has advocated over a number of years for improved access to care, including access to complex lower surgeries within B.C.,” Minister of Health Adrian Dix said. “For those seeking lower surgery, people were required to travel to Montreal or to the U.S., resulting in additional medical risks associated with travelling long distance after surgery and in receiving followup care if there were complications.”


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The reconstructive surgeries will be available from Vancouver Coastal Health starting next year. The province has also expanded the access to gender-affirming chest and breast surgeries.

A total of 14 surgeons will provide chest and breast surgeries in Burnaby, Kamloops, Kelowna, Port Moody, Prince George, Vancouver and Victoria. Previously, people had to travel to Vancouver or Victoria.


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“We are proud to be the first province in western Canada to provide these surgeries,” Dix said.

“While B.C. funded these surgeries, they weren’t being delivered close to home and support systems, and that is what we are changing now. This is about bringing care closer to home and offering an enhanced, more efficient, cost-effective solution.”

The B.C. government said the number of people travelling out of province for lower surgeries has been steadily increasing each year with approximately 100 people going outside of British Columbia for care annually. The government is now forecasting that over 200 chest and breast surgeries are expected to take place throughout B.C. in the coming year.

WATCH HERE: Navigating the world of gender identities






“Having personally travelled out of province to access similar care, this is a significant step forward in improving the patient journey for British Columbians requiring these procedures,” trans educator Gwen Haworth said.

“Offering services closer to home reduces additional stress, uncertainties and expenses for individuals and their families. It’s reassuring to know that we will have improved access to experienced care providers throughout the entire process, within our home province.”

The expansion will be funded as part of the new B.C. Surgical and Diagnostic Imaging Strategy. The Ministry of Health has allocated $75 million in 2018-19 and $100 million in 2019-20.


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Around 1 per cent of the population, an estimated 46,000 people in B.C., identifies as trans, a term that describes a wide range of people whose gender differs from their assigned sex at birth.

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of gender-affirming chest and breast surgeries performed annually has more than tripled, from 56 to 178. During the same time period, the number of annual referrals for chest and breast surgeries has doubled, from 179 to 376.

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BC to offer gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people

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Transgender people in B.C. will have access to gender-affirming lower-body surgeries within their home province as early as 2019.

On Friday, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the surgeries will be available in the Vancouver Coastal Health region next year.

Chest and breast surgeries, which have only been available in Vancouver and Victoria, will also be expanded to cities in the Lower Mainland, Kamloops, Kelowna and Prince George.

“For those seeking lower surgery, people were required to travel to Montreal or to the U.S., resulting in additional medical risks associated with travelling long distance after surgery and in receiving followup care if there were complications,” Dix said.

READ MORE: Health and safety are issues for trans youth: University of B.C. survey

READ MORE: X gender identity now recognized on B.C. IDs

In B.C., an estimated 46,000 people identify as trans or gender diverse. About 100 people travel outside of the province each year for lower-body surgeries – a number that has increased steadily.

In-province surgeries reduce barriers, says educator

Gwen Howarth was one of the hundreds of British Columbians forced to travel to undergo lower-body surgery, after coming out as transgender in 2000.

“At the time, access to care was more limited and required jumping through additional hoops. Navigating through this was challenging, costly and time-consuming,” Howarth, who works with Trans Care BC, said at Friday’s news conference.

“This impacted my ability to focus on other areas of my life, and put a strain on my relationship with my family and friends and loved ones who no doubt had to listen to my endless venting about barriers to health care.”

Howarth travelled to Montreal for surgery in 2004. She was able to afford flights and accommodations while recovering, but said many in B.C. are unable to meet the high costs and have to travel alone.

“As anyone knows who has been through a significant surgery, it can be nerve-wracking and a vulnerable time.”

Howarth said the government’s move is a major step to reducing cost barriers and the stigmas faced by the trans community.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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