CHARLOTTETOWN — The Prince Edward Island government has announced a number of programs to assist people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finance Minister Darlene Compton says 17,000 Islanders who are considered essential workers but make less than $3,000 per month will be eligible for a one-time payment of $1,000 each.
"The global pandemic has placed significant extra demands on our essential workers in sectors that support our food chain supply, transportation, health care and others. They have remained unwavering in their commitment to serving Islanders during these exceptionally challenging times," Compton said Thursday.
The funding for the program was announced by the federal government on April 15, but the original criteria would have applied to just 350 people — accounting for just $800,000 of a total $16.7 million available to the province.
Compton said Premier Dennis King lobbied the federal government to allow the province to change the criteria and make the funding available to all essential workers.
Fisheries Minister Jamie Fox said the pandemic has had a major impact on the fishing and aquaculture industries, so repayable loans are available to those sectors for up to $25,000 at a rate of four per cent.
The province will pay the interest for the first 18 months and the principle is also deferred for 18 months.
"Government understands these programs will not necessarily take up all the potential losses our seafood industry may face this year, but we hope to reduce some of the financial pressure on this important industry," Fox said.
The spring lobster season is set to open May 15, while the oyster and clam seasons are set to open May 18.
Tourism operators will be eligible for up to $2,000 toward the cost of Plexiglas dividers, hand sanitizer, washing stations and other changes to allow their businesses to adhere to public health guidelines.
Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay said provincial day parks on P.E.I. will open June 5, although playgrounds will remain closed.
Provincial golf courses Brudenell and Crowbush are scheduled to open May 15, while the course at Dundarave will open May 22.
MacKay said provincial campgrounds will open June 26 but only for Islanders who previously had a reservation for a seasonal campsite.
—By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2020.