Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

Courtenay-Alberni MP requests expanded application period for fish harvester benefits

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns is asking the federal government to offer a larger window to fishers to apply for benefits under the Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program aimed at helping them deal with the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fish harvesters were hit hard by the crisis as early as January and they have already waited long enough for promised support,” said Johns. “The program was announced in mid-May and now they’re being told to wait even longer.”

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan announced Wednesday, Aug. 5 that the program won’t be open for applications until Aug, 24 with a deadline less than an month later on Sept. 21.

READ: B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

“This is unacceptable,” said Johns. “The application period falls in the middle of fishing season when workers will be on the water trying to make up for the losses they’ve already felt. Either they will need to stop working and come in to apply, or they won’t get any support at all.”

The Liberal government asked fishers to be patient when it announced the benefit in May. Johns is asking for a larger window to apply, especially since government took so long to develop this program.

“The government still hasn’t released details of the full program,” Johns added.