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Wednesday, December 8th 2021- Question Period - Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program

Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program

Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, my question is for the government leader in the Senate. In August, the federal government began sending letters to just over 4,000 fishers across Atlantic Canada seeking to claw back almost $26 million in COVID-19 emergency relief that they received last year under the Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program. The federal government is asking about 300 fishers in the province of New Brunswick to repay $1.5 million.

The Canadian Independent Fish Harvester’s Federation has said people were given incomplete and incorrect information when they applied for the assistance last year and that the government failed to design the program based on how taxes are filed in the fishing industry.

Leader, will your government do anything to help the fishers who desperately needed assistance keep their benefits under the Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question and for raising this important issue. I don’t have the details of the programmed response that the government may implement. I will certainly make inquiries and try to provide an answer as quickly as I can.

Senator Poirier: It has been about four months since thousands of fishers began receiving letters from the Trudeau government demanding this repayment, yet we’re no closer to the resolution on their behalf. Leader, we’ve seen many structural and qualification changes take place in the various relief programs offered by your government since the pandemic began. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canada Revenue Agency and Service Canada are all involved in this program.

Will you please ask these departments to sit down together and come to an agreement on how to treat the fishers fairly under this program?

Senator Gold: I will certainly be pleased to communicate your concerns and your requests to those instances.

Senator Poirier: Thank you.

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