Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $62.5 million for Canada’s fish and seafood sector amid mounting concerns of food supply across the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
Recognizing the need to support Canada’s essential food security and economy, Prime Minister Trudeau announced today in his daily updates to Canadians, that this new Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund will go toward protecting workers and putting in place recommended health guidelines within the industry.
“We’re giving more money to processors so they can purchase personal protective equipment for workers, adapt to health protocols and support other social distancing measures,” Trudeau said. “For example, fish processing plants could buy new equipment, like freezers or storage space, so that their product — food for Canadians — can stay good while they respond to a changing market.”
According to the Government of Canada news release, this investment will help ensure the resilience of the food system by allowing Canada’s fish and seafood processing sector to safely and efficiently process, store, package, and distribute healthy, high-quality products, sourced from our fish harvesters and aquaculture operators, onto the plates of Canadians.
Fish and seafood are among the country’s top food exports and the industry employs roughly 72,000 people.
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Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan says she has heard concerns from industry representatives in the Maritimes about the loss of key markets for their processed seafood, notably cruise ships and restaurants due to the pandemic. There is also the need for them to increase storage capacity so they can continue to buy from fishers and hold onto their processed products until the markets reopen.
COVID-19 infections are disrupting other parts of the country’s food sector, including the meat processing industry.
The concerns raised by those in the fish and seafood sector come as outbreaks of the coronavirus appeared at several meat processing plants across the country.
Alberta’s Cargill meat plant shut down its plant just north of High River, Alta., earlier this week after an outbreak with hundreds of COVID-19 cases and the death of one employee.
Labour shortages and health concerns have led to a number of plants temporarily closing their doors or reducing operations.
Prime Minister Trudeau said earlier this week that the federal government would be carefully monitoring Canada’s food supply for shortages and rising costs.
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