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COVID-19 fallout: Ottawa announces details of support program for fishermen

Last Updated Aug 5, 2020 at 10:48 am EDT

Commercial fishing boats along with their traps, lines and markers tied up to the docks in Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Mark Spowart

HALIFAX — The federal government has announced details of a $469-million program aimed at helping Canada’s fish harvesters deal with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan issued a statement today saying the Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program, which was first announced in May, will be open for applications from Aug. 24 to Sept. 21.

Jordan says the program represents the single largest investment in Canada’s fisheries in nearly two decades.

The minister says the program is designed to address unique challenges facing the seasonal industry.

Detailed information about the application process for financial support is now available online from the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website.

Meanwhile, the federal government says it is still working on a program — also announced in May — that will allow self-employed fishermen to access employment insurance benefits on the basis of insurable earnings from previous seasons.

Earlier this year, Ottawa announced a $62-million program to help stabilize  the fish and seafood processing sectors, and another $50 million was pledged to help farmers, fish harvesters and food-processing employers deal with the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of all workers arriving from abroad.

“Our fisheries operate under a unique structure and have faced distinct challenges throughout this pandemic,” Jordan said in a statement. “We’ve been working around the clock to develop a simple, accessible system to deliver over $469 million to Canada’s fish harvesters as smoothly and quickly as possible.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press