May 14, 2020 0 Comments

Trudeau urges consumers to 'buy Canadian' to support struggling food industries

Lobster fisherman in Tracadie Harbour, P.E.I., preparing traps for setting day. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging people to “buy Canadian” food to keep fishery workers and farmers in business during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“To everyone who wants to show their support, buy Canadian. Pick up some Canadian cheese to help a local dairy farmer, have a ‘fish fry, or buy Canadian lobster,” he said today during his daily press conference.

“Not only will it taste great, it will help the people who keep food on our plates.”

Trudeau today pledged close to $470 million to support fish harvesters. One aspect is a new benefit to cover 75 per cent of losses for fish harvesters who expect an income drop of 25 per cent this season, up to about $10,000.

“Over the last two months, a lot of Canadians have faced very challenging situations and very difficult choices. Just take workers in the fisheries industry. You can’t harvest lobster from inside your house,” said Trudeau.

“So that leaves you trying to figure out how to either space people out on a fishing boat, or cancel your operations. It’s not an easy call to make.”

Seafood processors and harvesters have said they worry about not being able to hire the labour they need — including temporary foreign workers — while others have called for delays to the spring season as they work to establish proper safety protocols.

Trudeau said the federal government is also introducing non-repayable grants of up to $10,000 for fish harvesters who own their own business.

“And for workers who are worried about next year, we will change employment insurance rules so that fish harvesters can apply for EI benefits based on the earnings of previous years,” he said.

Last month, the federal government announced $62.5 million for Canada’s fish processing sector to help processing plants implement recommended health guidelines.

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