FFAW Hosts $ 470 Million Federal Pandemic Relief Program
The union representing Newfoundland and Labrador fishermen welcomes the news of nearly half a billion dollars in aid for an industry hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal government on Thursday pledged nearly $ 470 million to support the fishery, including a new benefit of $ 267.6 million that covers 75 percent of losses, up to about $ 10,000, for fishermen with incomes are down 25 percent this season.
FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan said in a press release: “Today’s announcement recognizes the vital role that fishworkers play in the economies of our coastal communities and the impact significant that the pandemic has had on their livelihoods, ”said Keith Sullivan, president of the Fish, Food & Allied Workers Union, in a press release Thursday afternoon.
The benefit applies to anyone who does not have access to the federal emergency wage subsidy. The non-repayable grant of up to $ 10,000 to meet fixed costs is available to fishermen who own their own businesses.
Employment Insurance rules are also changed, allowing fishermen to claim benefits based on earnings from previous years.
“At first glance, obviously, there are a lot of positives here. We’ve been working on this since March, when we looked for immediate considerations, and I just have to say that a lot of credit needs to be given to our members.” Sullivan told CBC radio Diffusion.
“They sent over 2,000 letters to MPs, calling on the government to take action.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the package Thursday during his daily COVID-19 update in Ottawa.
“Over the past two months, many Canadians have faced very difficult situations and very difficult choices. Just take the workers in the fishing industry: you can’t harvest lobster inside your home, ”Trudeau said.
“So that leaves you trying to figure out how to space people out on a fishing boat or cancel your operations. It’s not an easy call to make.”
Sullivan said the announcement had been a long time coming and said it was good news for fishermen who have been calling for income security, debt relief and access to affordable capital since the start of the year. this pandemic.
Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan told CBC radio Diffusion Members of Parliament from Newfoundland and Labrador have made it clear what the fishermen of the province need. She said the program will likely be adopted more in Atlantic Canada with a large number of fishermen located on the east coast of the country.
“We’re looking at where the gaps are and we’ve heard a lot from fishermen talk about the challenges they were facing with the declining market. We wanted to make sure we met these challenges, ”she said.
When asked why it took so long to develop funding for fishermen, Jordan said the government wanted to make sure it had the right plan with all concerns addressed.
“I think we did that with a number of measures that we put in place, and from day one we worked to make sure we could address the concerns of businesses across the country, not just in the fish and seafood sector, ”she said.
“But because the fishermen weren’t eligible for these benefits, we had to offer them whole new programs. I think we have made great strides today.
Jordan said Thursday’s announcement focused primarily on fishermen, but additional funding could also arrive for fish processors. Those working in processing facilities are currently eligible for the Canada Emergency Benefit.