July 10th, 2020
Letter to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans regarding Delays to Fish Harvester Benefit and Fish Harvester Grant
On May 14, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced up to $469.4 million in funding for fish harvesters who were affected by the pandemic but were unable to access existing federal measures. Almost two months later, fish harvesters are still waiting for concrete details as to who will be eligible for this funding and when they will be able to access it.
The wait has been too long.
While your department’s website offers some details for the Fish Harvester Benefit and the Fish Harvester Grant, we are concerned that the details of these programs will change significantly between now and their implementation. We need only to look at the federal business aid programs such as the Canada Emergency Business Account to see how much eligibility requirements for federal aid changes over time. This lack of certainty means people who need help cannot be certain that they will be eligible when the program launches.
Our offices have heard from numerous fish harvesters who are wondering when the government will make good on its promise. These hard-working people point out that fishing season is already underway and still no assistance has arrived. New fishers are especially concerned that they won’t be able to access assistance when it eventually becomes available.
We urge you to announce - without further delays - a launch date and a comprehensive set of eligibility guidelines for both the Fish Harvester Benefit and Fish Harvester Grant so that fish harvesters can plan the remainder of their season and get the help they need.
Gord Johns, Member of Parliament for Courtenay-Alberni
Taylor Bachrach, Member of Parliament for Skeena-Bulkley Valley