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WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government is investing $8 million in a new program to provide financial aid to the hospitality industry and to help with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Brian Pallister made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday, noting the Manitoba Hotel Association and the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association will be administering the new program, called the Hospitality Relief Sector Program.

The premier noted that the province’s tourism sector not only relies on Manitobans for business, but also on people from outside of the province coming to visit – something that was made difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic and the public health restrictions.

“So our tourism sector, which is a key contributor to our economy I should mention, has been significantly impacted by a reduction in domestic travel and international travel as well,” he said.

This program will give funding to hotels and full-time licensed resource tourism operators for fixed costs that haven’t been covered by other relief programs. These costs include property insurance, mortgage interest, property taxes, land leases, service fees, the maintenance of camps, and resource retention costs.

The grants will be given as a reimbursement for a percentage of the eligible expenses.

“While there is much hope on the horizon, we all feel it, with vaccines coming here gradually, we are months away from providing Manitobans and all Canadians with the fullest protection from COVID-19,” Pallister said.

“The risks of variants are real and they’ve been well chronicled. That’s why we’re offering this support now, during this challenging and unpredictable time.”

More information on how to apply to this relief program will be available in the coming days.