PERTH-WELLINGTON – Local MP John Nater recently announced the allocation of long-awaited emergency support funds for nine local branches of the Royal Canadian Legion.
“Like many organizations, Legion branches have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Nater stated in a Jan. 11 press release.
“Unable to hold events or rent their facilities, the organizations have lost almost their entire revenue in 2020.
“Last June, I wrote to the Minister of Veterans Affairs to advocate for immediate financial support for our Legions.
“In October, having not received a reply, I wrote the minister again.”
On Nov. 10 the federal government announced new funding to create a temporary Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund (VOESF), with $14 million designated for legions.
Veterans Affairs Canada has made the Royal Canadian Legion National Headquarters responsible for distributing the funds.
Nine branches in Perth-Wellington submitted applications and all have been approved for funding through Phase One of the VOESF disbursement, Nater explained.
“We are very fortunate none of the branches in Perth-Wellington were forced to close permanently in 2020,” he stated.
“Unfortunately for some other branches across Canada, the support did not arrive soon enough.
“I am hoping this funding will allow our local legions to continue to serve veterans and our communities while honouring the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers.”
Ken Thompson, president of Branch 134 in Mount Forest, stated, “Until we can become profitable again, the [VOESF] will help to pay ongoing expenses like utilities and insurance.
“This will allow our branch to continue our work for veterans, seniors and youth in our community.”
John Dalley of Legion Branch 226 in Arthur said the VOESF funding “has helped our branch continue to pay our month-to-month obligations, allowing us to reopen and resume our regular services whenever possible.”
Harriston Legion Branch 296 president Hugh Clunas stated the VOESF “has allowed our branch to make up for pitfalls in revenue.
“Furthermore, this funding will allow our branch to continue supporting local Veteran Services, and Senior and Youth organizations in the future rather than playing catch-up with our bills.”
Added Christine Stanley, treasurer of Drayton Legion Branch 416, “The Veterans Organization Emergency Funding has made up for losses in revenue and will facilitate the opening of our branch in 2021.
“The federal funding will also allow us to continue much needed upgrades for our kitchen.”
The release from Nater indicates the Mount Forest branch received $10,845 through the funding, while the Arthur Legion received $10,000, the Harriston branch received $10,845 and the Drayton branch $3,476.
A total of $89,391 went to Legion branches in Perth-Wellington, also including branches in Stratford, Mitchell, St. Marys, Listowel and Milverton.