seafood sector

COVID-19 aid flowing to fisheries, aquaculture sectors

Continued operations will help secure the livelihoods of over 80,000 Canadians, mainly in coastal and rural communities

By SeaWestNews

Canada is shoring up its support for the fisheries and aquaculture sectors with multi-million-dollar aid packages after declaring the nation’s seafood sector as an essential service during the current COVID-19 crisis.

“Our wild and farmed fish and seafood sector has been working closely with other food organizations, together with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and other departments to address the COVID-19 challenge,” said Paul Lansbergen, President of the of Fisheries Council of Canada (FCC).

“It is critical that our members, as important contributors to the food supply chain, maintain their ability to operate and fill grocery store shelves during this crisis.”

Timothy Kennedy, President & CEO, of Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) said continued operations will help to secure the livelihoods of over 80,000 Canadians, mainly in coastal and rural communities, as the economic impact of the pandemic, evolves.

“The federal government has now announced numerous programs that will help our essential workers and businesses to continue to operate and supply Canadians and the global community with Canadian seafood,” he said.

“Wage supports and essential worker definitions are critical programs to support – both financially and morally – our Canadian fish and seafood workers. Our members are committed to maintaining our high-quality standards for Canadians during this challenging time.”

“In addition to supporting the food supply chain, our members in Canadian fish and seafood – both wild and farmed – promote a healthy resource and work to develop an economically sound, market-driven, competitively-structured industry,” both organisations said in a statement.

The Fisheries Council of Canada (FCC) is the voice of Canada’s wild capture fish and seafood industry, while the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA) is the national association that speaks for Canada’s seafood farmers.

Earlier this month, Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard Bernadette Jordan announced aquaculture and seafood processing companies will have access to the $5 billion Farm Credit Canada loan program. And fishermen, processing workers, and front-line aquaculture workers are entitled to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which provides $2,000 per month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, small- and medium-sized businesses will have access to $65 billion in support via interest-free loans provided through the Canada Emergency Business Account and the Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank.

“We continue to work together, across all levels of government, and in partnership with harvesters, processors, seafood farmers, and industry, to keep Canadians safe and communities supported,” Jordan wrote in a 27 March statement.

“The seafood sector, and the hard-working women and men behind it, are essential to our collective food security and to Eastern Canada’s economies,” she said.

Measures to help businesses that could apply in the fishing and/or aquaculture industry include:

Farm Credit Canada (aquaculture as well as fish and seafood processors): Farm Credit Canada is a commercial lender for Canadian agriculture producers and the entire agri-food value chain businesses, including aquaculture as well as fish and seafood processors, but not fish harvesters. The Prime Minister recently announced an additional $5 billion in funding for Farm Credit Canada in response to COVID-19. This new funding will enhance lending capacity to ensure producers, agribusinesses and food processors, including the aquaculture sector, continue to have access to necessary capital.

Business Credit Availability Program (small and medium-sized businesses): This program will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide $65 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. This program includes the Canada Emergency Business Account and the Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Canada Emergency Business Account: This program will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program: This program will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank, for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19.

BDC and EDC are cooperating with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation and tourism.

Exemptions to travel restrictions for temporary foreign workers in fish/seafood sector: These exemptions mean local processors on both coasts will have access to the workers they need to keep feeding Canadians and global citizens with healthy, high quality food sources.

Canada Emergency Wage subsidy: The Government is proposing to provide qualifying employers a temporary wage subsidy of up to 75% for a period of three months, to support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs. Eligible employers would include individuals, taxable corporations, and partnerships consisting of eligible employers as well as non-profit organizations and registered charities. This subsidy would be available to eligible employers that see a drop of at least 30% of their revenue, which they will attest to in the online application.

10% Wage Subsidy: This measure will provide eligible small businesses a 10% wage subsidy, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Employers benefiting from this measure would include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as not-for-profit organizations and charities.

Flexibility for businesses filing taxes (all businesses): A number of measures are being introduced to provide increased flexibility to businesses paying taxes.