B.C. earmarks $1.5M to support Legion branches during pandemic

The B.C. government is allocating $1.5 million in funding to help support Royal Canadian Legion branches which have been struggling through the pandemic.

The one-time $1.5 million grant is roughly the same amount of funding that B.C. provided to businesses after the province enacted its circuit-breaker restrictions in late March, according to the provincial government.

Legion branches in B.C. were affected by the lockdown because many branches receive a significant amount of their income from food and beverage sales, which were prohibited under the province's indoor dining ban.

Many branches called for provincial support during the lockdown, saying that they were not eligible for the same relief funds that businesses could apply for during the circuit-breaker restrictions.

Some branches called for alternate relief methods as well, such as giving Legion branches an exemption from property taxes, as is the case in Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.

Earlier this month, the premier promised that the province was looking into ways to support Legion branches.

"Legions play an important role in our communities, caring for the people who have served our nation," said Premier John Horgan in a release Wednesday.

"Our government committed to finding a solution, and we're delivering support to ensure legions can keep serving veterans, their families and our communities," he said.

The Royal Canadian Legion BC/Yukon Command has 145 branches and serves approximately 47,000 members in B.C., including veterans and their families, according to the province.