HALIFAX — Maritime lobster fishermen in need of financial help got a lift of another kind when they were directed to a toll-free number that was supposed to detail an aid package but connected them to a sex line instead.
One of the several toll-free information numbers released by Fisheries Minister Gail Shea hooks callers up to a sex line that offers fishermen nary a detail on the lobster stimulus package.
“Hey there hot stuff, I’ve been waiting for your call,” a breathless female voice proffers. “Are you ready for some tantalizing fun?”
The message confounded some fishermen in the region, who have been pressing Ottawa to provide financial support after a dismal season.
“That’s supposed to be the line the information’s on?” said Ken Drake of the P.E.I. Fisherman’s Association. “It don’t sound very good.”
The hotline — one of five for Atlantic Canada and Quebec — is supposed to offer details about a short-term assistance program for lobster fishermen Shea announced this summer.
The department’s four other numbers were working properly.
Scott Cantin, a Fisheries spokesman, said the error occurred when two digits in the phone number were somehow transcribed improperly on the news release and the website.
The number was mistakenly sent out where, with a credit card, callers can be linked to “nasty girls” offering “the hottest action.”
“We’re not exactly sure where the error occurred, but we know it was just a typo and we regret it and we corrected it immediately,” Cantin said.
Cantin said the incorrect number was taken down from the department’s website within 35 minutes but a revised news release was not issued.
He said he didn’t know how many people had called it before the correction was made, adding the department hadn’t received any complaints.
Shea released the spending measures in June in P.E.I., where fishermen had tied up their boats because of prices that had dropped to historically low levels of $3 a pound.
The minister said $15 million will go toward short-term transitional aid for harvesters and will likely be based on a percentage of how much they lost in revenues.