Manitoulin Island Royal Canadian Legions receive COVID-19 aid funds

Royal Canadian Legion Logo

MANITOULIN – The two Manitoulin branches of the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL) welcome funding that was provided to both just prior to Christmas which will help them keep them operating. 

“The funding has come just in time,” stated Leigh Major, treasurer of the RCL Branch 514 in Gore Bay. The Gore Bay RCL branch has received $10,845 in funding provided through the federal government-Veterans Affairs Canada. “It is very good news, it will help keep us alive for another four or five months,” said Mr. Major. He pointed out the funding will help out with expenses incurred from being shut down during the pandemic and operating the Legion. 

“We were shut down from March 17-July 28 (and during the latest provincial lockdown). We have been doing okay but we’ve been living close to the vest,” said Mr. Major.

Ruth Eadie, president of the Little Current RCL 177 told the Recorder, “we did get funding (of $10,845), and are grateful for this support.” She pointed out the funding will assist the branch with its utilities, insurance and administration costs through the pandemic. 

The two Island Legions received the funding, as part of the federal government $14 million national aid package for RCL, as well as $6 for other veterans’ organizations.

The funding is intended to cover operational expenses including insurance, utilities, rent or mortgage payments, property tax and administration expenses. 

RCL branches had to apply through the provincial command to request funds, which noted that government figures indicate just over half of RCL branches across Canada applied for funding during the intake window in November; the other branches still have an opportunity to apply. 

In total, just over $7.2 million dollars distributed by the Legion’s National Headquarters went to 701 branches who recently applied for financial assistance provided through Veterans Affairs Canada. More funds will be disbursed in the coming weeks. Many locations have been struggling to keep up with operational costs in the aftermath of closures and cancelled events, a RCL release noted.

“I’m literally ecstatic to know that our branches have now received desperately needed help,” said Dominion President Thomas D. Irvine. “It’s a relief to know they will be able to continue with their amazing work, without the burden of financial stress looming in the background,” he told the Legion News.

“The Legion’s branches are some of our most important partners in supporting our veterans, and in making sure that Canadians remember the sacrifices they’ve made,” said the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, minister of Veterans Affairs and associate minister of National Defence. “I’m proud that the Government of Canada is able to provide them with the funding they need to make it through the pandemic as we continue to work together on behalf of our veterans and their families.” 

The Legion’s headquarters will offer a second application opportunity in January to branches that could not make the initial December deadline. If available, additional funds will be distributed in a third round.

“This funding will not only ensure many branches can make it through the pandemic, others will not have to close,” said Mr. Irvine. “This is the outcome we envisioned, and we once again thank Veterans Affairs Canada and our government for the aid package and for recognizing the crucial role of our branches in supporting our Veterans, their families and communities.”