We all recognize them — the buildings proudly displaying the poppy and maple leaf on their doors, welcoming our veterans and community members alike. I am, of course, talking about Canada’s Legions.
Being a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, and as a proud member of our local Legion for more than 25 years, I know that British Columbia’s Legions offer more than support and services for our veterans, they are integral parts of our communities. Many host local events and gatherings, serve as voting stations during elections, and offer vital resources to help our veterans reintegrate back into our communities.
Even before the pandemic hit, many of our Legions were struggling, and COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to our small businesses and community organizations, particularly those that rely on community gatherings and hospitality. You can then understand why I was absolutely shocked to learn that when our Provincial Health Officer declared the “circuit breaker” health orders to curb the rising case numbers in the third wave, John Horgan and his NDP government excluded our Legions from the Circuit Breaker Grant program and the COVID supports meant to help our small businesses.
John Horgan and the NDP continue to bungle COVID supports, and now our veterans may lose many of the vital Legions they rely on. The Royal Canadian Legion provides an integral service to communities across the province, supporting veterans, seniors, local community organizations, and youth groups.
They are also stewards of the annual Poppy Campaign and local Remembrance Day ceremonies honouring those who served and sacrificed for Canadians. In Fort St. John, Legion Branch 102 has been an integral part of our community for generations, hosting events for Christmas, New Year’s, socials and music nights, and a whole load of fundraisers to support our veterans and other great community causes.
It plays home to many other local groups including the cadets. None of us want to see our Legions and the services they provide become lost due to COVID. Over the past few weeks, my colleagues have raised the issue several times during Question Period, yet John Horgan and the NDP refuse to offer our Legions the support they deserve. For this government to exclude our Legions from his pandemic supports is a disservice to our veterans and our communities.
It is time that John Horgan offered our Legions the pandemic supports they need to survive so that they can continue doing their vital work of supporting our veterans who have done so much for our country. Just the thought of our Legions closing has me worried beyond words.
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