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Vancouver's PNE may be at risk if wage subsidy doesn't come through, says councillor

Last Updated Jan 21, 2021 at 2:33 pm PST

A concert at The Fair at the PNE (2014) (Courtesy facebook.com/PNE.Playland)
Summary

Vancouver city councillor says PNE is only fair in Canada without access to federal pandemic wage subsidy

'I'm deeply concerned about the viability of the PNE' says Vancouver Coun. Lisa Dominato

PNE is more than $10 million in the red, but could qualify for nearly $6 million before federal subsidy program ends

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A Vancouver city councillor is ramping up efforts to help the city’s “iconic” Pacific National Exhibition outlast COVID-19.

Coun. Lisa Dominato says the PNE is the only fair in Canada with no access to federal pandemic wage subsidy funding because it’s been owned by the city since 2004.

“At the end of the day, it’s a critical employer in our city and in Metro Vancouver. The result is we’ve had to lay off 93 per cent of our union employees and 50 per cent of management. They should have a level playing field and they should be accessing that federal wage subsidy, just as the other fairs are across the country.”

Related article: PNE employing fewer staff due to coronavirus impacts

Dominato says the PNE is more than $10 million in the red, directly due to the pandemic. But it could qualify for nearly $6 million before the subsidy program ends in June.

“I’m deeply concerned about the viability of the PNE. They’ve been creative in the face of this pandemic and have managed to pull off some drive-through events. But the bottom line is they are the only fair in this country that has not received the federal wage subsidy.”

Vancouver Centre Liberal MP Hedy Fry and Vancouver East NDP MP Jenny Kwan have been trying to help them find alternate sources of funding, but as many as 4,300 workers do not qualify for pandemic relief funding.

Dominato says more than half of those workers are under the age of 21, making PNE-Playland B.C.’s largest employer of young people.

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Over $50 million worth of events had to be cancelled last year.