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Important Update Regarding the Fishing EI Changes

November 17, 2020

An update is available regarding important changes to Employment Insurance for fishers. However, all cases are different and the FFAW strongly advises members to contact the office of their local MP and Service Canada to ensure the best path forward.

November 17, 2020 – Following FFAW-Unifor’s presentation to NL Liberal Members of Parliament on Friday, November 13th, measures are now in place that allow workers to establish a fishing benefit claim based on earnings in their current qualifying period or earnings used to establish a fishing claim of the same type (summer or winter) in 2018 or 2019, whichever is highest. Fishers can also benefit from the minimum weekly benefit rate of $500.

These measures will apply to the Winter benefit period beginning as early as September 27th, 2020 and in the coming Summer benefit period, which begins as early as March 28th, 2021.

To apply for EI fishing benefits, claimants must submit an application via Service Canada as per normal.

When applying, fishers should submit their earnings from their current season. Under no circumstances should they provide earnings from previous seasons as this could lead to delays in processing and finalization of their claim.

If a claimant has insufficient earnings in their current qualifying period to qualify for fishing benefits, Service Canada will subsequently adjust their claim to use the earnings from a previously established fishing claim.

The EI Fishing claim will be established with the current data first. The claim will then be adjusted if the earnings in the previous seasons would have resulted in a higher benefit rate. As a result, a claimant’s initial payments may be for $500 per week, though within a few weeks this should be fixed. If this is the case, once their claim is reconciled and their proper weekly benefit rate is established, they will receive back pay amounting to the difference for the weeks of benefits already received.

If a claimant is on a low claim:

  • Terminate their low claim that they would have started as early as March 28th 2020
  • Apply for Winter claim, that can start as early as September 27th
  • Request start date of September 27. If the person has been reporting since September 27th on a small claim, they can back date, and benefits owing will be adjusted (this could take 28 days)
  • They will receive at least $500 weekly until the computer system makes adjustments
  • As previously announced, harvesters can use previous years earnings if necessary
  • They will receive 26 weeks of earnings.

Once this claim ends, there are 2 options:
1.  Apply for the CERB (or similar program) until fishing season starts again (to be confirmed by CRA)
2.  Apply for Winter claim with zero earnings. The last 2 years earnings will be used to determine benefit rate and this is a one time offer.