Whitehorse Daily Star

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MONEY WELCOMED – The distribution of $1.7 million in federal relief funds to support local not-for-profit sport and recreation organizations affected by COVID-19 will make a major difference, says Jaret Slipp, the director of the territorial sport and recreation branch.

Sport and rec groups receiving COVID-19 relief funding

The Government of Yukon has begun distributing $1,687,000 in federal relief funds to support local not-for-profit sport and recreation organizations affected by COVID-19.

By John Tonin on September 1, 2020

The Government of Yukon has begun distributing $1,687,000 in federal relief funds to support local not-for-profit sport and recreation organizations affected by COVID-19.

This funding is part of the $500 million in COVID relief funding that the federal government announced last May for cultural heritage and sports organizations nation-wide.

The territorial sport and recreation branch is administering the funds directly to eligible sport and recreation organizations.

“We are excited; this will make a big difference,” said branch director Jaret Slipp.

“We have been working with clients and helping them with available relief funds and that can be complicated.

“We are excited to give organizations money that doesn’t have many strings attached. The federal government wanted it to go out and not be held back, not be complicated,” Slipp said.

These Yukon organizations can use the funds to cover COVID-19 related expenses they may have previously incurred because of closures or may experience in the future, as they adapt and operate under new guidelines.

Slipp said before the pandemic, organizations relied on fundraisers or membership fees as a source of revenue. The funds can be used, for example, to hire extra staff, buy materials or equipment required to mitigate COVID or plan for future COVID impacts.

“Fundamentally the goal is to provide something to help keep organizations alive,” said Slipp. “Once the pandemic is over, they can spring back to life. We don’t want organizations to fold.”

Slipp said the branch worked with other jurisdictions to find a way to distribute the funding.

“We took a percentage of their operating revenue to use as a proxy, for big they are,” said Slipp. “They are varied by size and that’s how we allocated the cash. There are so many ways to cut this we picked something relative.

“We recognize for some this won’t be enough. We are still encouraging organizations to apply to other funding.”

Community Services Minister John Streicker said in a release that sport and recreation are pivotal to the lives of Yukoners.

“Our recreation and sport organizations play such a vital role in our lives as Yukoners,” said Streicker. “They help keep us physically active and mentally healthy. They provide training and skill development. They give us opportunities to connect with each other.

“Sport and recreation groups, like many other organizations in our territory, have been affected by COVID-19. Thanks to the federal government, we’re hopeful these relief funds will support sport organizations as we all adapt to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic,” Streicker added.

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell said staying active is important given the times.

“Recreation is important, as it helps build inclusive communities, where families and friends can have fun and spend time together,” said Bagnell.

“In times like these, where isolation is part of our day-to-day lives, it is especially important that we stay active and healthy for our overall physical and mental health. These funds will help keep us connected, as we navigate our ‘new normal.’”

To ensure eligible organizations receive the funding quickly, Slipp said, the branch will be distributing $1,259,660 or about 75 per cent of the funds to its existing clients.

“Our clients have been given notice and cheques have been written,” said Slipp.

The other 25 per cent of the funding will be held for sport and recreation groups that are not clients of the branch but have sport and recreation as a primary mandate. They can contact Sport Yukon on how to potentially access funding.

“We know there are some organizations out there that aren’t clients, and maybe there are some we haven’t heard about,” said Slipp. “We want them to be included.”

The remaining 25 per cent, about $427,331, will be distributed in the fall.

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