Minnesota Delegation Calls for Fishing Guide Fee Exemption on Northern Border

Jul 2, 2015 Issues: Congressional Issues

Washington – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and Representatives Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, John Kline, Keith Ellison, Tim Walz, Erik Paulsen, Rick Nolan and Tom Emmer are urging Canadian officials to exempt U.S. fishing guides from a $230 work permit to fish in Canadian waters.

In a letter, led by Rep. Peterson, to Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer, Consul General Jamshed Merchant and Senior Representative to the United States Rob Merrifield the Members said that the fee goes against the long-standing tradition of cooperation between the United States and Canada to encourage these types of guides and its impact could negatively impact outdoor tourism activities in the region.

The Minnesota Congressional Delegation was joined in their request by members of the North Dakota Congressional Delegation.

The full text of the delegation’s letter is below:

Dear Ambassador Doer, Consul General Merchant, and Honorable Merrifield:

We are encouraged by the ongoing dialogue regarding the new Employer Compliance Fee of $230 and its assessment on U.S. border lake fishing guides seeking seasonal work permits. Due to the late notification period, we write to ask for an exemption in the current year for fishing guides being assessed this fee.

As you know, self-employed fishing guides working on lakes which straddle the U.S.-Canada border are allowed an exemption from Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) pursuant to R205(b) (exemption code C20). This exemption is based upon the principle that Canadian fishing guides are accorded a similar privilege to work on the U.S. side of a border lake. We write to urge that this same principle of mutual benefit should be applied in the new fee structure.

As written, the Employer Compliance Fee is assessed cross-industry with the intent of funding employer compliance measures. We understand the goal of this new policy is to address broader immigration related concerns. However, we feel this fee is being unfairly placed on U.S. border lake fishing guides who are small in number and do not represent a threat to Canadian labor markets. Furthermore, notice of this new fee was given in February 2015, mere months before the current fishing season began and giving impacted parties little time to prepare for the additional expense. The impact of this fee extends beyond fishing guides due to their strong connection with resort owners who rely on outdoor tourism as part of their business model.

In the spirit of the tradition of cooperation between our two countries on related issues, we would like to formally request an exemption in the year 2015 for U.S. border lake fishing guides from the Employer Compliance Fee. We also hope to continue the dialogue on how these guides can be formally excluded from this fee assessment in the future, given their unique place in the labor market.