Friday, May 15, 2020

Federal Government outlines COVID response for fishing industry

The Federal government is about to launch a financial aid program
for those in the fishing industry

Some financial help is on the way for those who work in Canada's fishing industry, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlining some of the measures in mind yesterday.

As part of his daily Update the Prime Minister announced a near 470 million dollar program for fish harvesters who have been impacted by the pandemic but are not able to qualify for existing federal measures.

"Fish harvesters work hard to provide Canadians with nutritious food to put on their tables, and are a vital part of our food supply from coast to coast to coast. This investment will help ease the burden on the people and businesses at the heart of our fishing and seafood industry. We are here to support them." —The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

The program, which will build on 62 million dollars in funding previously announced, includes the following:

Launch the Fish Harvester Benefit, a program worth up to $267.6 million, to help provide income support for this year's fishing seasons to eligible self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons crew who cannot access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Support will be provided to those that experience fishing income declines of greater than 25 per cent in the 2020 tax year, compared with a reference period to be identified. This measure covers 75 per cent of fishing income losses beyond a 25 per cent income decline threshold, up to a maximum individual entitlement equivalent to what is provided under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy ($847 per week for up to 12 weeks). 

Launch the Fish Harvester Grant, a program worth up to $201.8 million, to provide grants to help fish harvesters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and who are ineligible for the Canada Emergency Business Account or equivalent measures. This will give them more liquidity to address non-deferrable business costs. The program would provide non-repayable support of up to $10,000 to self-employed fish harvesters with a valid fishing licence. Size of the non-repayable support will vary depending on the level of fish harvesters' historic revenue. 

Propose measures or changes to Employment Insurance (EI) that would allow self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons to access EI benefits on the basis of insurable earnings from previous seasons (winter and summer claims).

Details on how those in the industry can apply for the programs will be released in the near future.

Bernadette Jordan, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard took note of the challenges that have faced the industry and how the new programs will help towards the future.

“Canada’s fish and seafood harvesters are the driving economic force behind many coastal and rural communities. While hardship and uncertainty are felt across the economy, the fishing sector faces unique challenges that require direct solutions. With this announcement, we are ensuring that Canada’s hardworking fish harvesters get the support they need now and into the future.”

Further notes on Thursday's announcement can be reviewed here.

A wider overview of the North Coast Fishing industry can be found from our archive page.

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