CNE appealing for help as it struggles with another summer sidelined

The summer staple is even considering a GoFundMe campaign to stay afloat

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The Canadian National Exhibition is anxiously awaiting a potential lifeline of $11 million from the federal and provincial governments as the summer tradition faces a second cancelled year.

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“We have laid off about half of our full-time staff, with about another third scheduled to be laid off,” said Darrell Brown, executive director of the CNE.

“There’s shock for some people,” Brown added. “We have some people that have been with us for decades and certainly never saw something like this coming.”

Brown says the CNE is awaiting a decision from the federal and provincial governments about helping with $11 million.

“In a best-case scenario, we are completely out of money by December of this year,” Brown said.

A bank line of credit is keeping the organization afloat.

The CNE is even considering a GoFundme campaign.

The August fair usually employs about 5,000 people and generates an estimated $93 million for the GTA and more than $128 million for the province yearly.

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“We need help now,” Brown said. “To put it bluntly, we need funding in 2021 to have a 2022 Ex.”

The August fair usually employs about 5,000 people and generates an estimated $93 million for the GTA and more than $128 million for the province yearly. Gregg (Scooter) Korek/Canadian National Exhibition
The August fair usually employs about 5,000 people and generates an estimated $93 million for the GTA and more than $128 million for the province yearly. Gregg (Scooter) Korek/Canadian National Exhibition

Mayor John Tory was asked Wednesday whether the decision to shelve the CNE for a second time was taken too early — especially considering Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition and Calgary’s Stampede are going ahead.

“While things are much better and we are making huge progress on vaccinations, and while case counts are down, none of us knows what’s going to be going on at the end of august,” Tory said.

“The notion that we can say with certainty that the CNE or any other organization should go ahead and sign millions of dollars of contracts and hire up all kinds of people, is just not something we can say,” Tory added.

Brown said improved vaccination and case numbers were “entirely predictable.”

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“But even with what’s happening, you’re not seeing a loosening of the guidelines to the extent that would allow you to make a break-even event,” he said.

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Mark Harrison — one of 700 vendors — has been selling ice cream at the CNE for 40 years, hiring 35 young people.

  1. CNE midway

    Petition calling for funding to save CNE approaching 20K names

  2. The 138th annual edition of the CNE on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017.

    Toronto cancels major in-person events through Labour Day, including CNE

  3. The CNE Midway is seen in this file photo.

    CNE says it may not survive without government funding

“Those poor kids, they’re out of money and out of pocket for those 18 days’ worth of work,” Harrison said. “There’s no way I can believe that the city of Toronto and the province of Ontario wouldn’t lend a helping hand to the CNE after all the benefit it has brought.”

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