Conservative member of parliament Kevin Waugh wants concrete answers from CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie.
Waugh is a member of the heritage committee and was asked to sit in on the finance committee as a fill in when Ambrosie made his first presentation as to why the CFL needs up to $150 million in coronavirus pandemic financial relief.
“There was a lot of questions leading up to Thursday, is this a $30 million bailout? Or is this a $30 million loan? Mr. Ambrosie really skirted around the question and that’s where we have the difference,” Waugh told 620 CKRM The SportsCage.
“I think that’s where Randy wasn’t prepared because that was the first question, is it a bailout or a loan, and he skirted around that, and he kind of got himself into deep water.”
The Saskatoon native admitted his love for CFL football, but clearly stated it’s not about like or dislike when it comes to a substantial government ask for money. The Canadian citizens and taxpayers are the ones who will ultimately have to foot the bill if the league receives any funds.
“What they’re looking for is a bailout. In saying that, we already know $5 million from the league and certain teams, we don’t know which teams but it really doesn’t matter, they are participating in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy,” Waugh said.
“So the league, of the $30 million that he asked, actually $5 million is being used or will be used for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. It was just extended by the prime minister past June 6, we don’t now how long, but I would think the league and certain teams will reapply after June 6. That was part of the $30 million ask.”
The elected representative for the constituency of Saskatoon-Grasswood used the Saskatchewan Roughriders as an example. If the team is using the CEWS, 75 percent of the salaries of employees are being paid by the government because they’ve been affected by COVID-19.
“We know that if there is no football in 2020, every franchise is really gonna have a hit and the league office is really going to have a hit. For the $30 million we know at least $5 million is to maintain security in your staffing, so we’re down to $25 million, I don’t have a problem with that, personally,” Waugh said.
“The bigger question is if there is no football this year, do you go to the next step which Randy Ambrosie said I would need $120 million to comfort the blow of no football this year. And the possibility of even next year in 2021 of either no football or a slow start dealing with gatherings in stadiums. And that’s the big issue that I can’t answer because of the issue with the virus.”
There was shock from Waugh and others on the standing committee of finance that the league lost between $10 and $20 million in 2019. In particular, Waugh felt the league may need a fix for its business overall.
Waugh was certain about the players needing to be involved in the process of potentially obtaining government money. Ambrosie had not spoken with the players’ union in the weeks leading into the scheduled meeting with FINA.
“One of the things that bothered me is that Ambrosie did not consult the Canadian Football League Players’ Association on his first ask for $30 million,” Waugh said.
“I think the next ask, if we don’t have the football season in 2020, is of $120 million. I am hearing some of that $120 million could be used for bonuses for players.”