Hundreds of legions are expected to permanently close in Canada
Though the federal government has allocated billions of funding toward helping residents and businesses across the country recover from the economic blow of the pandemic, there are still some that are falling through the cracks — one of them being the Royal Canadian Legion.
The non-profit organization, which has more than 250,000 members across 1,381 branches, has served veterans and citizens for almost 100 years. Aside from being the site of meetings, memorial activities and other projects, Legion Halls often serve as community hubs and venues for all types of different events and services.
But branches nationwide are now at risk of closing due to having to close amid the health pandemic, with approximately 124 already having to come to terms with permanent closure, and about 35 per cent are expected to be forced to shutter.
The Veterans Committee needs to meet and protect Royal Canadian Legion Branches throughout NS.— Nova Scotia PC Party (@nspc) June 26, 2020
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Given that people haven't been able to gather in large groups since March, legions have not been able to host fundraising events, nor rent out their space for third-party functions. And being mostly volunteer-run, the group is not eligible for some of the benefit programs available to businesses.
Representatives of the legions have reached out to the Canadian government for financial support to prevent more locations from closing their doors for good, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally responded to the issue during his press briefing on Friday.
The PM acknowledged that though there have been many supports for companies and individuals who are struggling right now, "there are smaller organizations, service organizations and legions that function largely on a volunteer basis... that are going through a very difficult time right now."
“We know that, we hear that and we're working with the Minister of Veterans Affairs and other officials to try and ensure that we're supporting these organizations that are so important, not just for veterans but for their communities as well."
When I grew up the Royal Canadian Legion was a cornerstone of my community. Like my friends, I benefited directly from its@programs. I know it has its troubles today but feel that it’s worth preserving. I’d join but I’d feel like a pretender. Tell us how we can help?— M. Kim Anderson (@mkimanderson) June 26, 2020
Legions are actively seeking donations from local residents to help stay afloat.
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