Canada’s fish harvesters are getting a financial boost from the federal government.

Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has announced up to $469.4 million in new measures to support harvesters, who are economically impacted by the pandemic but can’t access existing federal measures. 

The government says this latest 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,” 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 federal government says it will:

  • 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 can’t 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 ent of fishing income losses beyond a 25 percent 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.
  • And 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).