Canadian government examining request to see where CFL may fit in existing emergency assistance programs

The Canadian Football League is waiting for a final decision from the Canadian federal government.

Lots of people are focused on the financial aid ask of approximately $40 million which would be used to pay player salaries and operating costs for a potential shortened 2020 season. However, the public health component remains most crucial to contain COVID-19 amid the ongoing pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau knows the CFL is important to many Canadians, but that doesn’t mean it’s prudent to allow the league to play during the health crisis unless strict medical guidelines are followed.

In order to adopt a “hub city” model, the CFL must have a rigorous return to play health and safety protocol in place and would need to consult with provincial and local health authorities to obtain due approval. Office of the minister of small business, export promotion, and international trade, press secretary and regional advisor Ryan Nearing wrote in a statement.

The feds approved the National Hockey League playing in two Canadian cities: Toronto and Edmonton. Regular testing is in place for each of the 24 NHL teams and their 52 team members — players and staff — daily. Gary Bettman’s league is paying for their COVID-19 testing to be done by the private sector.

Winnipeg has tentatively been chosen as the CFL hub city. COVID-19 would be checked for before arrival, upon arrival, day six and day 13 inside the proverbial bubble. Only if a player shows symptoms would they be tested after the initial rounds. If the CFL touches down in the Manitoba capital, public health would perform the virus testing, which saves the league money.

Manitoba premier Brian Pallister offered $2.5 million in his invitation to host the CFL. Based on an economic impact report, the three-down league coming to Winnipeg could be worth $45 million in business sales. Despite the pending cash from the provincial level, the CFL braintrust has been adamant: there needs to be federal financial support.

Our government will work with all Canadian organizations to adapt to the new realities of COVID-19. With respect to the CFL, officials continue to examine their requests to see where they may be able to fit in terms of existing emergency assistance programs. Nearing wrote in a statement.

One way or another the CFL and CFL Players’ Association must come to an agreement on a COVID-19 return to play collective bargaining agreement. The league has offered the players’ union 33 percent pro-rated base salaries and performance bonuses for a six-game season, but didn’t include unpaid off-season, report and pass or active roster bonuses. The money is a major sticking point, proved true by the membership survey which players overwhelmingly responded no to the proposed compensation.

NFL players who could earn millions wanted daily coronavirus testing. CFL players making thousands of dollars want to ensure their risk of contracting the virus is mitigated by increased testing.

The financial and medical aspects are the two critical factors for any sort of season to potentially happen in 2020. As the days pass and August nears, the chances of playing games this year decreases.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.