Jerry Lava of Kenora leads branches of the Royal Canadian Legion across the district, and across the country. He says many of them are in deep trouble.
"Most people know the Legion is always there to fundraise -- either through their charitable (activities) or other activities -- to help the hospital, meals on wheels, handi-transit, cadet corps. All of this would come to a grinding halt, if we were to collapse financially," he said.
Lava says 357 of 1,381 or about one in four Legions in Canada are in danger of closing, unless they get help paying their bills.
In Kenora, the situation is particularly tough he notes, as the service club has $27,000 in trust through their Chase the Ace, but they still have four cards left in the game. Lava doesn't expect them to be able to resume the game anytime soon, as they've been pulling in around 240 people a night, which wouldn't meet social distancing requirements. In addition, money raised through lotteries can't be spent on operating costs, according to provincial rules.
Kenora's branch is the largest, with a cash flow of about $250,000 a year, but it also has the largest building, Lava noted. Offices rented to the St. John's Ambulance and MPP Greg Rickford remain open, along with the branch administrative office. Members are still trying to work out safety measures for staff and patons in the club room.
Branch 12 has been up for sale before, and Lava says they aren't ruling anything out.
Branches across the country haven't specified a dollar amount in their letter of request to federal and provincial governments, and they understand their plight has reached the ears of the prime minister.
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