Sudbury Royal Canadian Legions welcome government funds, but challenges lie ahead

A Legion is Sudbury is saying after months of government funding announcements, it’s good to see some money directed towards legions 

Provincial government promises help for non-profits, including legions

Legions, like Branch 76 in Minnow Lake, are eligible to receive assistance from the provincial government. (Erik White/CBC )

A legion is Sudbury is saying after months of government funding announcements, it's good to see some money heading their way.

Earlier this week, the Ontario government announced it will be investing $83 million into helping non-profits recover from COVID-19 through the Resilient Communities Fund.

The money will allow organizations to build fundraising capacity, recruit more volunteers and develop health and safety plans.

Mary Michasiw, president of the Lockerby Legion in Sudbury, said if they qualify, the money could help to continue to offer vital programming for veterans and seniors in the area.

"We've been greatly impacted by this whole situation," Michasiw said. "We have lost our entire source of income. There's absolutely no revenue coming here right now, and yet we still have a lot of bills to pay in terms of maintaining the building, hydro, gas...those kinds of things."

Michasiw said volunteers have still been very active.

"We've been providing meals to seniors that are isolated and at risk of some serious health conditions and we've been able to access a little bit of money through United Way," she said. 

"So this place is really very busy at least four or five days a week. So things are starting to happen but we still have great need here."

The Lockerby Legion, which Michasiw said has approximately 250 members, used to host a large number of community events.

Health directives from the Ontario government and the local public health unit forced them to limit those.

The branch has lost about $70,000  in revenue from cancelled events alone, Michasiw estimates.

'That's where legions will suffer': Garson-Falconbridge president

Other legions say the money is too little, too late.

Stuart O'Neil, the president of the Garson Falconbridge Legion, said the funding will help restructure programming to meet COVID-19 guidelines, in the future, but it won't help his legion recover from current financial pressures.

"The money that's being put in the resilient fund doesn't really go to help paying the current operational bills," O'Neil said. "And that's where legions will suffer."

"While you're trying to [cover bills] your bank account is slowly being eaten away," O'Neil said. "Depending upon how long the pandemic continues it could result in closure of your operation."

Patrons of the Garson Falconbridge Legion are slowly returning as restrictions are lifted, O'Neil said.

But the legion also continues to struggle due to loss of revenue from cancelled events. 


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