OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Legion is set to get an influx of support months after its branches first put out the call for a financial lifeline.
Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced in Ottawa Tuesday the creation of a $20-million Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund. The temporary fund will provide immediate financial support to veterans organizations who have been struggling with the effects of COVID-19.
“The last few months have been rough on folks and our veterans are certainly no different,” MacAulay said at Tuesday’s press conference. “It’s been a tough time on them and a tough time on the organizations that support them.”
The Royal Canadian Legion will receive the lion’s share of the funding at $14 million to help keep branches open. Individual branches will apply to their Dominion Command for funding.
When CTV News first covered the story in June, the Royal Canadian Legion warned that 124 of its 1,381 Canadian branches were likely to close permanently because of COVID-19, and another 357 were facing serious financial hardship. Since then, at least 21 branches have closed permanently or are in the process of closing.
“To the women and men who have served our country I want to say this – you represent the best of who we are, and we will always be in your debt. And to all those who bravely serve today – thank you for everything that you do,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his opening remarks.
ANAVETS, the non-profit also known as the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada, will receive $1 million, True Patriot Love will receive $1.5 million and VETS Canada is set to receive $850,000 to help cover a portion of its operation expenditures.
Ottawa is making the remainder of the fund available to other veteran organizations on an application basis.
“These organizations provide essential service and make a real difference in the lives of our veterans and their family,” MacAulay said. “These organizations change lives and they save lives and above all they are there when our veterans need them.’
While the details and breakdown of the fund are new, the money itself was allocated in the federal government’s COVID-19 aid bill, C-4. Passed in early October, the bill expands the Employment Insurance system and creates new leave benefits for workers who get sick with COVID-19 or have to care for dependents who are ill.
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