OTTAWA – The Royal Canadian Legion is pleased to learn that a new aid package will make millions of dollars available to support struggling Branches across the country with their operational costs. The Legion will receive $14 million of a $20 million dollar total aid package for Veteran organizations. The package was approved earlier this fall through Bill C-4.
“This has been a long time coming and we are very grateful,” says Thomas D. Irvine, CD, Dominion President. “We have already lost over twenty Branches during this pandemic, and we hope this much-needed funding will help the others stay afloat for as long as needed to weather this ongoing storm.”
The virtual announcement was made today in Ottawa. The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence was joined by representatives from the Legion and other Veteran organizations who will also benefit from the package.
“The Royal Canadian Legion is a vital national institution,” says Minister MacAulay. “With the critical support they provide to Veterans and the important role they play in many of our communities, our government wants to ensure that the Legion‘s branches have the support they need to weather this pandemic. This funding will allow them to do just that, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Legion to improve the lives of our Veterans and their families.”
During the pandemic, many branches have struggled financially due to closed doors and reduced revenues, which often come from events, hall rentals and food service. While many regions instituted other creative ways to raise funds, it is not enough for long-term survival and many are not sure how long they can continue. This new injection of funding to help with operational needs such as paying an electricity bill, is welcome news.
Previous to this announcement, Mr. Irvine had written to the federal government on more than one occasion to outline the struggles of Legion Branches and to ask for support – something the organization has not had to do in its nearly 100 year history.
Administration of the funds will be made at the national level, with the funds disbursed by Legion National Headquarters.
“This will be the most expeditious way to get the money where it’s needed,” says Irvine. “We are ready to get started as soon as possible. This funding will ensure many Branches can stay alive, and keep doing the great work they do to help support our Veterans and families, their communities and help us continue to promote Remembrance.”
The Royal Canadian Legion organizes and holds the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. This year it will take place with a maximum of 100 participants, and with masks and physical distancing measures in place. The ceremony will be broadcast on national television and on the Legion’s Facebook Live platform.