Sudbury·Audio

Northeastern Ontario YMCAs try to plan for the future after COVID-19 financial impact

The YMCA of Northeastern Ontario says it’s losing money fast because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

YMCAs and other charity groups calling on government to provide assistance

The head of the YMCA in Sudbury and North Bay say since the pandemic started, they've lost $1.4 million in revenue. (Google Streetview)

The YMCA of Northeastern Ontario says it's losing money fast because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization has facilities in two locations, including Sudbury and North Bay.

President and CEO Helen Francis says when the pandemic started, they had to shut down both locations, meaning no membership fees are coming in.

"The challenge for us is there's such a high and ongoing cost associated with the buildings that support health, fitness and aquatics," she said. "We believe through this current pandemic period, we have lost $1.4 million in revenue."

She says right now, they're working on different scenarios as to when they could reopen and how that would look. In Ontario, the government has suggested indoors gyms could reopen in Phase 3 with physical distancing protocols in place.

Francis says they're hoping to reopen by September, but says they're also considering they may not be able to reopen until next year.

She says there would also be a reduction in members when they do reopen, as some people may choose not to come back and there would be fewer people allowed in at one time.

"It would question whether we could open our doors and operate in a fiscally viable way," she said.

Francis says they're trying to be realistic but optimistic at the same time.

"It's really an opportunity to reimagine how we utilize these facilities and how we offer our programs and services," she said.

YMCA Northeastern Ontario CEO Helen Francis says they've helped about 100 people who have filed a refugee claim in Sudbury since April. (Erik White/CBC )

She says it could be an opportunity to change how the Y is being run, including looking for new partnerships.

"Perhaps we may need to re-purpose some of our space," she said.

"But by bringing in other partners, can we find a much more cost effective way to utilize these facilities and more importantly preserve the programming and service."

The YMCA and other charity groups are already lobbying federal and provincial governments for assistance.

"Charities and not-for-profits have lost a lot of potential income," she said.

"Charities end up filling roles that governments at all levels can't fill on their own. Those are roles that we needed pre-COVID and we're going to need them post-COVID."

With files from Sarah MacMillan

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