In an unprecedented decision, organizers with the CNE decided to cancel this summer’s 18-day event, which typically draws thousands, due to health and safety concerns.
“Without significant financial investment and relief, the long-term economic viability of Canada’s largest fair is uncertain beyond next year,” the CNE said in a statement Thursday morning.
The CNE said it is reporting a loss of $6 million for 2020 and $128 million in economic impact to the province from the loss of tourism, jobs, supplier contracts, artist fees, and retail transactions.
The organization said since 2013, the CNE has been financially independent for putting on the event and does not have government funding. It uses revenue generated each year to reinvest into the next year.
However, the CNE said it is in the process of securing a loan under the federal Business Credit Availability Program and is tapping into COVID-19 support programs to recover from the deficit.
“Basic business sense should guide government policy,” CNE executive director Darrell Brown said.
“Allocating a grant of $6 million to help the CNE produce an event that generates $128 million to the province annually is a sound investment when you consider the greater gain to the regional economy and tourism.”
The CNE said “notwithstanding factors related to the pandemic,” organizers are confident that with support, investment and next year’s predicted attendance, it will be able to put on the fair for 2021.
“The total financial losses to the CNE as a result of the pandemic are still uncertain, and likely to increase as the pandemic continues to affect businesses, public events and large-scale gatherings,” said John Kiru, president of the CNE Association.
The CNE will have to consider factors such as how the consumer behaviour of visitors might change, and how to put safety first in all aspects of planning, he said.
“Our road to financial recovery is a long-term proposition; however, we are encouraged by the public support of our fans who have connected with our virtual fair, and are optimistic that visitors will come out to support us again in person next year to help make it a banner year.”
For next year, dates for the fair are Aug. 20 to Sept. 6, 2021.