Province announces support for essential workers, small business and fisheries
Today, the Province of Prince Edward Island announced additional investments to support essential workers, small businesses, and the fishing and aquaculture industries as the province moves into its renewal phase of the pandemic.
This includes a wage top-up for certain essential workers, support to help businesses ensure the health and safety of their staff and customers and new programs to help impacted fishers.
Minister of Finance Darlene Compton announced the $16.7 million COVID-19 Incentive to Support Essential Workers. This temporary wage top-up program is for Island workers employed by any business or organization, including for-profit, non-profit or other entity providing essential services, as defined by the Prince Edward Island Chief Public Health Office.
Essential workers who have been working through the pandemic and make less than $3,000 per four-week period will receive a one-time payment of $1,000 through their employers. Approximately 17,000 Islanders will benefit from this incentive. Employers can fill out the application form on behalf of their eligible employers by visiting the COVID-19 business page.
“The effects of the COVID-19 have been wide spread, placing unimaginable demands on our people, our economy and our resources. Essential workers in sectors that support our food supply chain, transportation, health care and other areas have remained unwavering in their commitment to serving Islanders during these exceptionally challenging times,” said Minister Compton. “On behalf of all Islanders, I want to thank our essential workers and the important role they are playing. It is the hard work and resiliency of our Island workforce that made and will continue to make our economy strong.”
Minister of Fisheries and Communities Jamie Fox announced two new programs designed to assist fisheries and aquaculture operators who may be negatively impacted by economic conditions related to COVID-19.
The Prince Edward Island Fish Emergency Loan Program, a targeted loan portfolio offered by Finance PEI and the PEI Credit Unions, will provide loans up to $25,000 to Islander harvesters at 4 per cent interest over a five-year term. The principal will be deferred for the first 18 months. In addition, the Department of Fisheries and Communities will pay interest on behalf of the borrower for the first 18 months.
The Interest Relief Program will support fish harvesters with up to 12 months of interest relief and service debt costs on a maximum of $250 million at an average interest rate of 5 per cent. Fish harvesters that can demonstrate a 30 per cent or more decrease in fish-related revenues for the 2020 fishing season will be eligible.
“Our Island fishing and aquaculture sectors have long played an important role in strengthening our economy. They continue to show great leadership in the face of COVID-19, taking appropriate steps to ensure they can operate safely in these unprecedented times,” said Minister Fox. “While the pandemic has meant uncertainty in the marketplace, we know that the industry can rebound over time because of our province’s reputation for high quality, world-class seafood. These programs will help support our Island fishing families in the meantime.”
Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture Matthew MacKay announced the COVID-19 Workspace Adaption Assistance Fund to help small businesses purchase and install protective measures such as plexiglass dividers or handwashing stations to safeguard employees and customers.
Businesses can receive up to $2,000 and the program will be retroactive to March 16th to support businesses that have already put measures in place to operate safely.
Renew PEI, Together outlines the gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces. The plan will be implemented in four distinct phases with a progressive lifting of public health measures on individuals, communities and organizations over three-week periods. Renew PEI, Together is a general plan for Prince Edward Island. However, organizations and businesses are not required to re-open at the initiation of the relevant phase and may choose to continue operations in a manner and timeline they are comfortable with.
Businesses open to the public must take every reasonable step to minimize interactions of individuals within 2 metres and implement enhanced cleaning and disinfection of shared areas and surfaces. The Chief Public Health Office has developed a reference guide and operational plan template to help support businesses and organizations. The template can be found through the Renew PEI, Together website. Businesses and organizations that have questions can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“There is no crystal ball as to how COVID-19 will impact our economy long term, but by preparing now and putting the right measures in place, including enhanced safety measures for staff and customers, we can start to work toward recovery,” said Minister of Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture Matthew MacKay. “We know that the last few weeks have been incredibly challenging for Island businesses and we want to ensure that they can get through this as best as possible.”
Additionally, Minister MacKay provided an update on the opening of all provincial golf courses, day parks and campgrounds.
All provincial day parks will open Friday, June 5, including the mountain bike trails at Brookvale. Brudenell River Golf Course and The Links at Crowbush Cove will open Friday, May 15 and Dundarave Golf Course will open Friday, May 22. All provincial campgrounds will open for the season on Friday, June 26. However, at this time, they will only be open for Islanders who booked their seasonal campsite prior to March 31, 2020.
All provincial golf courses, day parks and campgrounds will be required to continue to follow all public health guidelines for physical distancing, cleaning and disinfection.
Executive Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Office of the Premier