Calgary

Struggling Royal Canadian Legion asks Ottawa for help in wake of COVID-19 closures

The Royal Canadian Legion says many branches across the country that have been closed since March are struggling to pay their bills and reopen after losing revenue due to the pandemic.

19 rural and urban Alberta legion branches are struggling financially

The national organization of Royal Canadian Legion says more than 120 branches could have to close if they can't secure federal government help. (CBC)

The Royal Canadian Legion says many branches across the country that have been closed since March are struggling to pay their bills and reopen after losing revenue due to the pandemic.

As some branches slowly reopen and others remain shuttered, Alberta/Northwest Territories Legion Command President John Mahon estimates 19 rural and urban Alberta legion branches are currently in bad financial shape.

"If this thing goes right through the summer and branches have no way of generating revenue and renting out their buildings and stuff, the number 19 is going to grow," he said.

The Legion says it sent two letters to the federal government asking for help and is still waiting for an official response. 

The national organization says more than 120 branches could be forced to close if they can't secure federal government help.

It adds it will keep supporting veterans and others, even as legion doors remain closed.

Many Alberta legions are among those struggling.

Mark Barham with Calgary's Kensington branch, says that location, which recently moved into a brand new building, is actually doing fairly well. And he said reopening its public restaurant, with restrictions, has helped generate some revenue. 

But he said the upstairs members area remains closed as they sort through the reopening process.

"I would simply ask that something be put in place to help the Royal Canadian Legion in slim times," Barham said.

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