Alberta government announces $1M grant to help faith-based, cultural facilities offset costs of COVID-19

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The Alberta government will help reimburse faith-based and cultural centres for the costs of adhering to safety regulations during COVID-19.

Churches, synagogues, mosques and cultural centres can now apply to receive up to $5,000 in order to offset the price of better ventilation, new signs, cleaning supplies and upgraded technology.

The faith-based and cultural facility relaunch grant is taxpayer-funded, and there is a total of $1 million available, said Culture Minister Leela Aheer at a press conference on Monday.

It is intended to ensure that cultural and religious communities can safely meet, gather and celebrate together.

"These facilities have been especially impacted by increased costs, related to following public health measures, obviously, coupled with reduced revenue from donations … facility rentals and services," said Aheer.

"Until now, many places of worship have not been eligible for existing pandemic response funding provided by the federal government, [and] they have given back so much to our communities."

The first instalments are expected to be dispersed after Dec. 15.

Several faith leaders attended the announcement, and spoke about the importance of community outreach during the pandemic.

"This pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetime, and requires an unprecedented response," said Shaikh Fayaz Tilly, a senior imam who is with the Muslim Council of Calgary.

"Many thanks to … the Government of Alberta for their continuous support to faith, spiritual and cultural traditions … as our world is in the midst of uncertainty."