The sun was shining on Vernon’s Fraternal Order of Eagles Hall, home to the Royal Canadian Legion’s Branch 25, one day after the federal government announced the distribution of COVID-19 relief funds to Canada’s legions and other veterans organizations Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

The sun was shining on Vernon’s Fraternal Order of Eagles Hall, home to the Royal Canadian Legion’s Branch 25, one day after the federal government announced the distribution of COVID-19 relief funds to Canada’s legions and other veterans organizations Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Shuswap-North Okanagan MP lauds government’s support for veterans

Ottawa announced the distribution of $14M in funds for the Royal Canadian Legion Monday

North Okanagan-Shuswap Member of Parliament Mel Arnold is applauding the federal government’s provisions for the country’s veterans and legions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday the government announced the distribution of the $14 million in federal funds that were earmarked for the Royal Canadian Legion on the eve of Remembrance Day.

The $20 million Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund comes as part of the government’s COVID-19 response plan, as legions and other veterans organizations have suffered financial blows due to event cancellations and other adverse effects of the pandemic.

“Legions, including those in the North Okanagan-Shuswap, provide vital services and support for veterans, seniors and communities,” Arnold said in a letter dated Monday, De. 21. “The pandemic has severely reduced the ability of Legions to raise funds to sustain their operations while demands for their supports and services have increased.”

Arnold said he has been working with legions in his home riding to understand the supports they need to keep their doors open, adding he has personally pressed the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister for Seniors to “take timely and necessary steps to help ensure our Legions, veterans, seniors and communities are supported.”

READ MORE: Old Vernon Legion site finally gets a facelift

More than half of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 1,380 branches received the financial aid Monday, according to a Royal Canadian Legion press release. In total, just over $7.2 million went to 701 branches that applied for assistance through Veterans Affairs Canada.

“Today’s announcement is the result of combined efforts of Legion representatives from local branches up to the Dominion Command level working tirelessly with elected representatives to press the federal government to recognize and support the work of Legions,” Arnold’s letter states.

The two-term MP said while the funding announcement was welcome news, he won’t be taking his foot off the gas in pushing for further veteran support in 2021.

“While I welcome this disbursement of funding, more needs to be done to support our Legions and communities that depend on them and I will be continuing to work with local Legions and the Government of Canada in 2021 in pursuit of the federal supports our veterans and communities require.”

The funds can be used to cover a range of operational expenses among Legions, according to a Monday statement by Veterans Affairs Canada that also lauded the funding disbursal.

READ MORE: North-Okanagan Shuswap MP petitions government to reform salmon management

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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