Quebec is giving a helping hand to sports federations and other sporting associations hit hard by the COVID-19 health crisis.
Isabelle Charest, the junior education minister responsible for sports, announced the government will inject $70 million to help offset costs and losses in revenue due to the pandemic.
“You know that in order to fight the virus, we had to make difficult decisions,” she said, referring to restrictions implemented in designated red zones, where a partial lockdown is in effect.
The funding will help organizations continue to offer the same quality of services and sports in the long run, according to Charest.
Charest said the assistance is meant to allow for flexibility in how each organization addresses the consequences of the pandemic.
“I am convinced that you will use this support in a good way,” she said.
Charest did not specify how the money would be divided among the different sporting federations and other organizations, saying announcements would be made in the coming weeks.
She did say, however, that $70 million is a sizable amount considering it comes in addition to the money distributed through the yearly budget of around $110 million.
Charest also said to ensure the survival of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, it would be receiving $12 million of the $70 million announced on Thursday, which adds up to $1 million per team in the province.
When pressed by reporters as to why 12 teams with around 20 players each were getting so much money, Charest pointed to the importance of the league in Quebec and of the sport in general.
She also defended the decision saying the money wasn’t taken away from other sporting organizations to give to the league and that the file was considered separately.
“It was $12 million that we were able to go get from the treasury board,” she said. “We also have to understand the league is a motor of economic development in many regions.”
The minister clarified the help was not meant for gyms or infrastructure, which have access to programs run by the Ministry of Economy.
Charest said ultimately the goal of the announcement is to ensure people can stay active.
“We know the impact and the importance of being active on physical health and mental health as well,” she said. “So with this help, we will make sure that the sports and leisure fields will still be alive after this pandemic.”
— With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.