Ice Assistance Emergency Program

The Ice Assistance Emergency Program has been developed to reduce the economic hardship faced by fishers in parts of Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Fishers who are unable to fish due to unseasonably severe ice conditions may be eligible for the program once their 2017 employment insurance (EI) fishing benefits claim has ended.

Up to $5 million has been allocated for grant payments to eligible applicants. Financial assistance will be given for a period of 6 weeks. This reflects the time between the typical season opening and the date when ice conditions are expected to improve enough to fish.


Eligible applicants will be fishers who:

  • fish on a vessel operating primarily in an area covered by the program
  • have received EI fishing benefits in 2016
  • had a 2017 EI fishing benefits claim that has ended, and are currently not receiving or eligible for any additional EI benefits

Areas and periods covered by the program

Geographic boundaries and program periods are subject to further monitoring of ice conditions and fishing activity.

Eligible ice affected areas Program period (6 weeks)
Trinity Bay (Grates Cove to Cape Bonavista) May 7 to June 17
Bonavista Bay (Cape Bonavista to Cape Freels) May 7 to June 17
Notre Dame Bay and Fogo Island area (Cape Freels to New Bay Head) May 7 to June 17
Green Bay (New Bay Head to Cape St. John) May 7 to June 17
White Bay North (Cape St. John to Cape Bauld) May 7 to June 17
North part of the Northern Peninsula  (Cape Bauld to Ferolle Point) May 7 to June 17
Quebec Lower North Shore (Blanc-Sablon to Kegaska) May 7 to June 17
Labrador Straits (Blanc-Sablon to Cape St. Charles) May 7 to June 17
Conception Bay (Grates Point to Western Bay Head, and harvesters who fish on enterprises licensed to fish crab in the 6B Outer Area) May 7 to June 17
Labrador (North of Cape St. Charles) May 28 to July 8

Ice conditions in affected areas vary from year to year, and income interruptions are expected. These grant payments are designed to address longer than normal periods of income interruption.The period for which you’ll be receiving assistance under this program will be shorter than 6 weeks if you have continued to be eligible for EI fishing benefits past April 22, 2017.

North of Cape St. Charles in Labrador

The program duration for your area may extend beyond the date of your application. If this happens, a Service Canada agent will contact you to collect additional information on your fishing income during those weeks. Your benefit amount will then be adjusted accordingly.

The start date of the program is later in Labrador because the period reflects the time at which the fishing season would typically open.

Affected vessels outside of specified areas

You may live outside of the program area but have a vessel that can’t leave an affected area due to ice conditions.

If this is the case, you qualify for the program since ice conditions in one of the eligible areas are preventing you from earning fishing income.

Payment amounts

If you qualify, you can receive grant payments of up to $508 per eligible week.

When you start earning fishing income, the grant payment will be reduced dollar-for-dollar based on the cumulative amount you earned from fishing for the remaining weeks of the program. Grant payments will be rounded to the nearest dollar.

If you’re eligible, your ice assistance grant becomes payable beginning either:

Your payment will cover the weeks following the 2-week period after your EI benefits expired.

For example, if you fish in Bonavista Bay and received your last EI fishing benefit payment on:

Example of payment calculation

If your 2017 EI fishing benefits claim ended on April 22, 2017, you become payable for the program beginning the week of May 7, 2017. If you fish in an area where the program starts the week of May 7, you may be eligible for the full program duration of 6 weeks.

If you start fishing the weeks of June 5 and June 12, and you report a fishing income of $200 and $600, respectively, your benefits are calculated as follows.


Any payment you receive under this program is taxable. However, income tax won’t be deducted at source from these grants. A taxation information slip will be issued in February 2018. The amount of the grant must be reported on your income tax return for 2017.

For Quebec residents, RL-1 slips (employment and other income) will also be issued.

Employment insurance

The Ice Assistance Emergency Program is not an extension of EI.

Any payment received under the program cannot be used to establish a future EI claim.

Social assistance benefits

If you’re on social assistance, only fishing earnings you’ve received during the program’s duration will be deducted from your payment.

When you may apply

Application forms are available from June 23, 2017, to August 4, 2017, through:

Service Canada will begin processing applications on June 26, 2017.

Review of denied applications

If you’re denied ice assistance benefits, you may apply for an eligibility review. To do so, you must:

Contact us

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