New support for Canada’s fish harvesters

New support for Canada’s fish harvesters Canada has announced $469.4 million in new measures to support fish harvesters. Photo: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced up to $469.4 million in new measures to support fish harvesters, left economically disadvantaged by the pandemic but unable to access existing federal measures. This investment builds on the $62.5 million for the new Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund announced last month to help Canada’s fish and seafood processing sector.

“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,” Justin Trudeau said.

“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 Government of Canada has pledged to launch the Fish Harvester Benefit, a programme 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 experiencing fishing income declines of greater than 25% in the 2020 tax year, compared with a reference period to be identified. This measure covers 75% of fishing income losses beyond a 25% 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).

In addition, the Fish Harvester Grant, a programme worth up to $201.8 million, aims to provide grants to help fish harvesters affected 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.

Measures or changes to Employment Insurance are also proposed 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).

“Canada’s fish and seafood harvesters are the driving economic force behind many coastal and rural communities,” commented Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Bernadette Jordan.

“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.”

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