Manitoba unveils relief program for COVID-ravaged hospitality sector
New funding 'a much-needed lifeline,' says Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association president
A new $8-million relief program is aimed at helping Manitoba's hotel and tourism sector, which has suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Premier Brian Pallister announced the program on Tuesday, saying it will be administered by the Manitoba Hotel Association and the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association to help hospitality-related business with fixed costs that have not been covered by other relief programs.
Costs include property insurance and property taxes, mortgage interest payments, land leases and service fees.
Grants will be provided as a reimbursement for a percentage of eligible expenses.
"Manitoba's tourism sector — a key contributor to the province's economy — has been significantly impacted by a reduction in domestic and international travel and other restrictions that were necessary to protect Manitobans and all Canadians from the spread of COVID-19," Pallister said.
WATCH | Hospitality Relief Program aims to help hospitality businesses impacted by COVID-19:
"We recognize that these businesses have made significant sacrifices in order to protect their community. We are committed to helping them through this challenging and unpredictable time and to help position them for recovery."
DJ Seales, president of the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association, called the new funding "a much-needed lifeline" as many in the industry face a second consecutive year of no business due to the border being closed.
Pit Turenne, the co-owner and general manager at Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge, about 200 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, also says it's welcome news.
His business is seasonal, and therefore didn't qualify for many of the federal assistance programs, he said.
That, coupled with travel restrictions, meant a loss of 70 per cent of business in the last year, Turenne said.
"We rely on a mix of not only Manitobans but also other Canadians and Americans to sort of fill our beds for the summer, so yeah, it's been a challenging time for sure."
The support from the government won't make up for all the losses, but it will mitigate them, he said.
"We're going to be in a hole when we get out of this no matter what. I think [the relief program] will allow for some people to dig their way out of the hole as opposed to just closing their doors."
More information about the Hospitality Relief Sector Program and how to apply will be available soon, Pallister said.
- We initially reported that Pit Turenne is co-owner and general manager of Deacon's Lake Wilderness Lodge. In fact, he's co-owner and general manager of Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge.Mar 17, 2021 9:56 AM CT
With files from Jill Coubrough