Federal Government Announces New Support for Fish Harvesters

This blog was initially published on May 14 and has been updated to include further details regarding application for the supports.

On May 14, 2020, the Federal Government announced up to $469.4 million in new measures to support Canadian fish harvesters who are economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but do not otherwise qualify for federal support.

This program builds upon the previously announced $62.5 million Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund, aimed at providing assistance to Canada’s fish and seafood processing sector.

Support will be available under two key programs: (1) the Fish Harvester Benefit, and (2) the Fish Harvester Grant.

Eligible applicants can apply from August 24, 2020 to September 21, 2020 for either the Fish Harvester Benefit or the Fish Harvester Grant.

1. Fish Harvester Benefit

The Fish Harvester Benefit provides income support to eligible self-employed fish harvesters and sharepersons crew who cannot access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”). Applicants will be eligible if their income in the 2020 tax year declined at least 25%, compared to a certain reference period.

The Fish Harvester Benefit will cover 75% of fishing income losses beyond the threshold 25% income loss, up to $847 per week, for up to 12 weeks. This is the same maximum entitlement under the CEWS program.

Eligible Applicants:

  • Self-employed commercial fish harvesters
    • Includes “owner-operators”, enterprise heads, inshore licence-holders, or those with limited entry commercial licence eligibility
  • Self-employed freshwater fish harvesters
  • Indigenous harvesters who are designated by their community under a communal commercial fishing licence
  • Sharepersons crew members

Ineligible Applicants:

  • Commercial fish harvesters in the offshore sector
  • Recreational fish harvesters
    • Includes sport fishing enterprises
  • Individuals and companies within the aquaculture sector
  • Individuals and companies within the processing sector
  • Wage-earning crew members
  • Anyone who has applied for, or received CEWS

Application:

To apply for the Fish Harvester Benefit, individuals must provide the following:

  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Full name
  • The amount of their reported self-employed fishing income for the 2018 or 2019 tax year
  • Income tax program account number if income is reported under a corporation
  • Projected estimate of the applicant’s self-employed fishing income for 2020
  • Applicant’s full home address
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Bank details for payments
    • Branch transit number, institution number and account number

2. Fish Harvester Grant

The Fish Harvester Grant will provide grants to fish harvesters who are otherwise ineligible for the Canada Emergency Business Account, or equivalent measures. The Fish Harvester Grant will provide up to $10,000 in non-repayable support to self-employed fish harvesters with a valid fishing licence. The size of the grant will vary, depending on the fish harvester’s historic income.

The eligibility requirements are as follows:

Eligible Applicants:

  • Self-employed commercial fish harvesters
    • Includes “owner-operators”, enterprise heads, inshore licence-holders, or those holding limited entry commercial licence eligibility (Pacific)
  • Freshwater fish harvesters
    • This is subject to provincial agreement to provide licensing information
  • Indigenous harvesters who are designated as Vessel Masters by their community under a communal commercial fishing licence
  • Must hold a valid commercial fishing license for 2020, issued by the federal Department of Fisheries or the relevant Province or Territory
  • Must have landings against a commercial fishing license for 2018 or 2019

Ineligible Applicants:

  • Crew (wage-earning and share persons)
  • Commercial fish harvesters in the offshore sector
  • Recreational fish harvesters, including sport fishing enterprises
  • Individuals and companies within the aquaculture sector
  • Individuals and companies within the processing sector
  • Anyone who has applied for or received the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) or equivalent measures

Application:

To apply for the Fish Harvester Benefit, individuals must provide the following:

  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Full name
  • The amount of their reported self-employed fishing income for the 2018 or 2019 tax year
  • Income tax program account number if income is reported under a corporation
  • Projected estimate of the applicant’s self-employed fishing income for 2020
  • Applicant’s full home address
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Bank details for payments
    • Branch transit number, institution number and account number
  • Unique identifier or fisher identification number

Please do not hesitate to reach out to our MLT Aikins Agriculture and Food team should you require help in addressing, responding to, or managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your business – we have the extensive experience to provide comprehensive assistance, and would be pleased to work with your organization.

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