Jennie Stevens (St. Catharines), NDP critic for Veterans, Legions and Military Affairs, says Doug Ford’s re-announcement of existing capital grants will do nothing to save legions across Ontario that are on the brink of shutting down permanently due to the impact of COVID-19. Stevens says Ontario’s legions desperately need operational funding to make it through the pandemic.
“Veterans and legions don’t need program support or fundraising training – which is what this announcement will provide. They need an urgent lifeline to cover operational costs like rent, mortgage payments or the power bills until they can fully re-open their services, which are so valuable to the communities they serve. As a proud legion member from a military family, I know the value of local legions and the services they offer. Ford’s announcement shows he just doesn’t understand what they need.”
Stevens wrote to the premier three months ago urging him to help legions to make it through the crisis and explained that what they needed was operational funding support to avoid shutting down. Doug Ford’s announcement Wednesday is not new money. It is a rebranding of the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Grow and Capital Fund as the “OTF Resilient Communities Fund” which only offers grants for fundraising training and professional development that fails to address the urgent needs of legions.
“Yet again Doug Ford refuses to listen. Legions asked for operational support to get through the crisis, and what they got today was just a renamed grant program that will do nothing to save the legions struggling to survive.
“Legions don’t need or want training on fundraising or advice on ‘re-imagining’ service delivery through public-private partnerships. Ford is telling legions they’re on their own, and won’t step up with the funding they desperately need right now. Ford likes to talk about how much he loves legions, but in their time of need he’s abandoned them.”
It’s estimated that 124 Royal Canadian Legion branches are likely to close permanently, and another 357 are facing financial hardship.
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