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Future of PNE in jeopardy without help from feds: union

Last Updated Aug 17, 2020 at 11:36 am PDT

The PNE and Playland are seen here from the NEWS 1130 Air Patrol in the summer of 2019. (Source: Riley Phillips/NEWS 1130)
Summary

Workers have launched a campaign to ask the feds to extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to the PNE

The PNE is not eligible for federal assistance, which the union says creates uncertainty about the future for workers

An online campaign has been launched to 'Save the PNE'

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The union representing the thousands of people who work at the PNE is urging the federal government to step in to save their jobs — and the beloved Vancouver institution.

As a non-profit owned by the City of Vancouver, the PNE is not eligible for the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, according to CUPE local 1004 President Andrew Ledger.

“The PNE is just really stuck in this big loophole right now,” he says.

“The PNE is in a position that they need considerable amounts of money to be able to keep the lights on, and not have the PNE become another casualty of the pandemic.”

The union represents 4,200 workers, most of whom are out of work due to the pandemic.

“What we saw was just a mass layoff of all of our members there save for a very small handful,” Ledger says.

“We have a lot of very long-term employees who’ve worked with the PNE for decades and decades who are very committed to the PNE as an institution and really love working there who are in a really difficult situation right now not having access to the employment that they would rely on to pay their bills. But more importantly the uncertainty of the future of the PNE weighs heavy on our members’ hearts.”

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Ledger says while pop-up and drive-thru events have been popular and kept people connected to the summer fair, they haven’t made much money.

In a statement he says the Exhibition is facing a $19 million debt at the end of 2020.

The union has launched an online campaign to Save the PNE.

“We’re hoping the public will reach out to elected officials and let them know how important the PNE is to them and our community and urge the federal government to do the right thing and bring the PNE in scope for a number of the federal supports that are available to other businesses around the country,” Ledger says.

“We want to get back to work, we want to be able to make sure the PNE is here not just this year but for decades to come.