Four North Island Legions will receive financial assistance from Veterans Affairs Canada to help cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. The money is coming just in time for some.
The Port Alice Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 180) closed up shop when the pandemic first hit and then was eventually able to reopen last July and has been operating under specific pandemic restrictions ever since.
“While bar operations were minimally affected, the restrictions significantly reduced our ability to hold events that generated revenue while faced with our normal fixed costs,” said Warren Beatty, branch 180 president. “We have been operating close to or below break even with a reduced number of days/hours. These funds will provide some much needed financial security and allow us to continue operations and provide our members and guests a safe place to socialize as we weather the pandemic.”
On Nov. 10, the federal government announced a $20 million aid package to help veteran organizations get through the pandemic. Royal Canadian Legions across Canada received $14 million for disbursement to different branches. The funds were to be used to cover a range of operational items such as insurance, utilities, rent or mortgage, property tax, administration costs and wages, from March 17, 2020 to Nov. 17, 2020.
The funds “did not include loss of revenue nor cost of items purchased for resale,” noted Beatty. “The Port Alice branch received $11,919,21 after requesting it through an application process involving its Provincial Command. These funds will be used to complete projects that had been put on hold.”
Beatty added the branch is “grateful for the financial assistance and appreciates that the federal government has recognized the work of the Legion and provided necessary support to allow us to continue to support our community.”
The Port McNeill Legion (Branch 281) will receive just less than $7,000, the Port Hardy (Branch 237) and Alert Bay (Branch 198) legions will get $10,000 each.
Port McNeill branch president Grant Anderson said, “The biggest thing is it will help keep the Legion a viable presence in our community.” That branch had taken to cancelling internet and unplugging appliances to lower overhead costs.