Emergency Economic Support Proposal – Add Your Voice!

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A fisherwoman holding up two crabs on a boat at sea.

Emergency Economic Support for Crab Industry

FFAW-Unifor has launched a campaign for federal support for those impacted by the post-pandemic collapse in the NL snow crab fishery. The detailed proposal includes income support requests for fish harvesters, fishery workers, and enterprise owners, to address significant income shortages this year and provide the help needed to make it to next season.

The fishery is a reliable, sustainable, and important source of economic development for coastal communities with over 7,500 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians relying on the crab solely or mostly for their livelihood. The current crisis can be attributed to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, pandemic stimulus spending in the United States, the Russian/Ukraine challenge and Russia’s takeover of Japanese seafood markets, all contributing to the market collapse and subsequent 70% drop in market prices from last year.  The anomalous downturn in the snow crab fishery requires federal intervention to protect those who are currently in crisis.

Both federal and provincial governments declared fish harvesters and plant workers essential workers during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – critical to both the economy and food supply of the country. Now, these Canadians need help in the form of economic relief from the federal government. Our Union has developed an informed funding proposal that would provide critical support for valuable enterprise owners, crew members, and other fishery workers impacted by global factors that influenced the collapse in the snow crab market this year.

FFAW-Unifor is proposing an emergency economic support grant as well as temporary emergency changes to employment insurance qualifications for seasonal labour claims to ensure members will be protected given the dramatic decline in income this year. FFAW is presenting this proposal to government immediately and EVERY VOICE is needed to increase pressure for action!

The proposal requests:

(1) FISHERIES WORKERS - This proposal applies to all non-harvesting jobs relying on the snow crab fishery. For example, processing plant workers, duckside monitors, offloaders, delivery drivers, etc., whose employer can attest to the fact that they rely ont eh snow crab fishery for 60% of their income. Ensuring access to employment insurance benefits this year will be of the utmost importance. 

  • Lower minimum insurable hours to qualify for regular E.I. benefits based on the unemployment divisor of 14 (In most cases it is a minimum of 420 to 700 insurable hours to qualify).
  • AND offer a Fishery Worker Economic Hardship Grant – $4000 per affected seasonal worker to supplement lost income. Non-taxable, & no effect on current EI claims.

 (2) FISH HARVERSTERS - This proposal applies to all commercial fish harvesters whose income is primarily dependent on snow crab. 

  • Fish Harvester Economic Hardship Grant - $10,000 per affected fish harvester to supplement lost income and the drastic reduction in employment insurance benefits. Non-taxable, & no effect on current EI claims.
  •  AND New Entrants Economic Hardship Benefit - up to $15,000 to enterprise-owners who invested in the snow crab fishery within the last 10 years to offset increased operating expenses due to pandemic-related causes and subsequent reduction in forecasted earnings. Non-taxable, & no effect on current EI claims.
  •  AND defer CEBA interest accumulation and payments for an additional calendar year.

Add your voice and sign the FFAW's petition here.