Liberal Member of Parliament Peter Fragiskatos was enlightened by CFL players after he said it would be “alarming” if COVID-19 emergency relief funds were used to pay American CFL football players living in the U.S.
B.C. Lions quarterback Mike Reilly led the way. Reilly Tweeted: It’s “alarming” that he would feel this way about U.S. players. I have been paying Canadian taxes for a decade now. Have two daughters with Canadian birth certificates. Spent hundreds of hours giving back to Canadian communities. As have all CFL payers, both Canadian and American.
The Lions paid Reilly $2.9 million over four years through 2022 — $725,000 per season — to sign in February 2019. That made the 35-year-old the highest-paid player in the league. No. 13 has held that title for a number of seasons, earning over $500,000 per year in 2017 and 2018. It’s easy to see Reilly has paid a lot of taxes to the Canadian government.
Fragiskatos was one of the members of the standing committee on finance who heard commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s plea for up to $150 million in coronavirus financial aid. Ambrosie asked for $30 million in working capital to maintain operations through the crisis and estimated the league could need as much as an additional $120 million over the next two years — if the most negative scenarios, all of them, come true.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Dane Evans questioned Fragiskatos on Twitter: But we Americans still have to pay taxes in Canada just as the Canadians do, in some cases more! So why would we not be eligible to receive the same benefits of the rest of the tax-paying employees in the CFL?
Former Toronto Argo turned Montreal Alouettes’ running back James Wilder Jr. has been all in with his CFL career. Wilder Jr. Tweeted: Imagine moving your family up to live in Canada dedicated to your jobs while contributing to the economy the last three years, paying those high Canadian taxes like everyone else, seeing all that money come out your checks over the years. Then being told this!
Big Edmonton Eskimos offensive lineman SirVincent Rogers delivered a pancake block on Fragiskatos: We Americans players in the CFL have paid our dues, earned our keep in the League, and Country. Anything the CFL has everything to do with us all inclusively. No time for political nonsense! We are a united front with skin in the game as players. Period.
Esks national kicker Grant Shaw shared his take on Twitter: I believe any employee of the CFL should receive the exact same financial relief as every other Canadian employee that has been laid off. Nationality should not determine whether an employee should be eligible.
Veteran Alouettes defensive lineman John Bowman also serves as a CFL Players’ Association vice president and knows the athletes financial side well. To the folks saying U.S./Global players shouldn’t receive benefits, just know in 26 weeks we all pay in full into E.I. And we aren’t eligible to receive benefits until July/August because we gotta show loss of salary. You’re welcome.
Receiver Duron Carter wants to give Fragiskatos a chance to explain his side. Carter wrote on Twitter: Everybody is upset, but let’s give Fragiskatos an opportunity to share his opinion… I 100 percent agree the CFL needs a plan and I 100 percent believe none of that money was going to the players. Our PA (our union) can’t even get a call with the commissioner!
The CFL world is awaiting a reply from Fragiskatos.