Statement from the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard on support to the fish and seafood industry
April 17, 2020
Ottawa, ON — Canada’s fish and seafood sector has proven itself resilient and flexible in response to the unprecedented challenges that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not business as usual and as a government, we recognize this.
Not only is the fish and seafood sector essential to our food supply chain, there are many coastal communities that depend on it for their own food and economic security. Indigenous peoples are particularly dependent on fisheries as a source of food for their families, income for their households, and revenues for their communities. Additionally, many processing plants are managing increased operating costs and reduced efficiency; the longer the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the harder it becomes for them to operate. They all need our support.
The measures announced by the Government of Canada in the last few weeks are designed to be expansive with the goal to help as many Canadians as possible through this pandemic. Our attention now is on ensuring that all sectors are able to get through this difficult time.
The expansion of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), announced by the Prime Minister a few days ago, is one example of this tailoring of federal initiatives. The expanded eligibility of the CERB now includes seasonal workers who have exhausted their Employment Insurance and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recipients are now allowed to earn up to $1,000 per month while also collecting the CERB. This change will provide further support to those working in fish and seafood companies that cannot operate at full capacity due to the current environment.
My department has been, and will continue to be, engaged with harvesters, member associations, processors, and industry regarding the state of the sector and season openings for the fisheries in particular. We are also listening to their views on other ways to support the sector. This is to ensure that we are working together to address challenges head-on and adapting to this situation as it progresses. I recognize the concerns harvesters and communities have around the ability to conduct a safe fishery and I am encouraged by provincial governments and various organizations and associations who have developed protocols to keep people safe.
We are not done. The Government of Canada is exploring additional means of support for the fish and seafood sector, and the communities that depend on it. I continue to engage with my provincial counterparts and I will consider all options to ensure that the fish and seafood industry has the support available to weather this storm.
I would like to thank the hardworking and dedicated workers in the fish and seafood sector for their ongoing resiliency and commitment to ensuring that we all have access to this important food source. I remain committed to working with all levels of government to address the issues you are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans,
and the Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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