P.E.I. pledges support for fishing, farming, tourism industries
HALIFAX -- Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King pledged his support to the Island's fishing, farming, and tourism industries during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
“I know that fishers want to fish, farmers want to farm, tourism operators want to open up their establishments, and show off the Island hospitality that keeps bringing people back to our province," said King. "But until that is a reality, we have to deal with the really crappy hand that we’ve been dealt. We need to keep our core industries as strong as we can, and that will require us to work together.”
“Collectively, these three industries bring nearly $2-billion in economic activity to our province annually. They employ thousands of Islanders and they are the very fabric of who we are as Islanders, and we will step up with the investments that are needed, first to help our industries get back on some level footing, and then to make sure we are positioned for the recovery we know will come.”
Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, did not provide an update of new cases at the Tuesday afternoon briefing, as the province was still awaiting test results from the national lab in Winnipeg.
"I am concerned, and I do think that this is taking too long," said King. "We have been asking for a quicker turnaround, we do understand that they are under great pressure. Our worry is that we are probably up over 300 tests that we are waiting on."
As of Tuesday, P.E.I. had a total of 22 positive cases, and had not reported a new case since April 2.
"The concern that Dr. Morrison and I have, is that we feel that this may be luring Islanders into a false sense of belief that we have flattened the curve, and we haven't. We are increasing our testing and we fully anticipate that we will have more positive cases," said King.
The 22 positive cases are all related to international travel and are between the ages of 20 and 79 years old.
Eight cases were considered recovered and none are in hospital.
Sixteen of the positive cases are located in Queens County, with six in Prince County and zero in Kings County.
As of Monday, P.E.I. had conducted over 1,400 tests, with 996 of those coming back negative, and 464 others still pending.
Jamie Fox, P.E.I.’s minister of Fisheries and Communities, says the fishery employs 8,000 Islanders and brings in $600 million annually into the P.E.I. economy.
“More than ever, we need leadership from the federal government to decide on the future of the spring fishing season. As a province, we want to see the spring fishery season take place," said Fox.
“While we wait for a decision to be made, we continue to work with the association and industry to make sure that the workplace and every touch point is safe and complies with the standards set up by the chief public health office.”
Also on Tuesday, the province announced details of its new 'Temporary Rental Assistance Benefit' in support of Islanders who are having difficulties paying rent during the pandemic.
The benefit will provide $1,000 per household to help cover the cost of rent for a three-month period; $500 in the first month, and $250 in the following two months.
Islanders who are currently receiving or applying for Employment Insurance or the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit due to COVID-19, and are not receiving rental support from other government or non-government organizations, are eligible for the benefit.
The Prince Edward Island Housing Corporation has also placed a moratorium on evictions from all provincially-owned housing units until June 2020.