August 4, 2020 – Fairs and exhibitions, pillars of Canadian heritage and rural economic drivers, are calling on the federal government to provide $74 million in solvency support.
At the beginning of June, the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (CAFE) made a request to key federal ministers asking for $49 million to support the continuity of 733 fairs, exhibitions and agricultural societies to May 2021. In addition, CAFE is requesting $25 million for the top 10 largest exhibitions in Canada including the Canadian National Exhibition and Pacific National Exhibition who, because of their size, require additional support.
“Fundamentally, this funding is to support the continuity of non-profit organizations in the domestic tourism sector,” says Amanda Frigon, CAFE President, “a gap that has yet to be supported or recognized by the federal government.”
There are 743 non-profit, volunteer-run and seasonal organizations that support the rural and urban communities they live in. Combined, they see an estimated 35 million visitors every year and provide up to $2.9 billion in economic impact.
“Unfortunately, our industry has been ineligible for the majority of the measures announced by the government to date,” says Frigon, “the bulk of us have one shot to generate the majority of our revenue every year for the next 365 days and we’ve lost that. The tourism industry is the hardest hit, and events within the tourism industry have the biggest hurdle to recover revenue once they’ve lost their main events.”
This funding request will be put towards organizational solvency and will cover costs including insurance, utilities, building maintenance, etc. CAFE proposes a focused program whereby specific expenses are deemed eligible and pro-rated based on the amounts spent in 2019.
“We have reached out to various departments about our concerns, but we have yet to see any progress,” says Frigon, “the process has been frustrating.”
As large gatherings are cancelled, several of these century-old non-profit organizations that are already facing significant challenges, will be forced to close their doors forever. It’s important to understand this will have a ripple effect on the Canadian economy, civic engagement and community development. CAFE is extremely worried for the future of our industry. Not only will the organizations who run these events be unable to recover, but the same can be said for hundreds of Canadian service providers including entertainers, vendors and concessionaires who are otherwise ineligible for many of the federal measures already announced in relation to the impact of COVID-19.