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MEDIA RELEASE: More Direct Federal Support Needed for Workers in Fishing Industry

April 25, 2020

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $62.5 million for fish processors to support the implementation of safety procedures including funding for purchasing personal protective equipment as well as freezers or storage space to adapt to issues arising from COVID-19. While FFAW-Unifor welcomes this federal support for the fishing industry, direct funding to support fish harvesters impacted by the pandemic is required.

“Today’s announcement of federal support for the fishing industry is a good first step but does nothing to support fish harvesters,” said Keith Sullivan, President of FFAW-Unifor. “Given the serious health and safety concerns expressed by plant workers in the province, this new funding must be used by processing companies to ensure adequate personal protective equipment is available in plants to keep workers safe.”

Last week, FFAW-Unifor submitted a formal proposal to the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, following several weeks of discussions with the Minister and amongst the industry on the support measures needed to address the impact of COVID-19 on the fishery. The proposal’s recommendations include:

  • Extend E.I. benefits for a 12-month period for fish harvesters, plant workers and other industry support workers who qualified for E.I. based on the 2019 fishing season.
  • Waive or reimburse all 2020 federal fees related to the commercial fishery including, but not limited to, licensing fees, vessel registration fees, IQ fees, etc.
  • Implement a wage subsidy program similar to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) for the fishing industry.
  • Introduce a program similar to the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to provide interest-free loans for inshore enterprise owners.
  • Extend the deferral periods (without interest or penalty) for personal and business income taxes for a period of 12 months.

“The COVID-19 pandemic came at a critical time in our province’s fishing season. Delays in fisheries and market challenges will undoubtedly result in serous financial hardship for fish harvesters and plant workers this year,” said Sullivan. “Many workers in the fishing industry have fallen through the cracks in existing federal programs and are looking to our federal government to support workers and their families in coastal communities, not just processing companies.”


For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Glode, FFAW-Unifor Communications, at 743-4445 or