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Regina Exhibition Association Ltd. ‘working on options for repayment’ of $8M bill owed to feds

Last week, an internal document to the City of Regina showed that Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) will need to repay the government $8 million following an audit by the Canada Revenue Agency over the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

REAL’s amount owing consists of the $6.5 million principle plus roughly $1.5 million in accrued interest in connection with the program, which saw the federal government provide assistance to businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an email statement to Global News, REAL stated that it followed a defined due diligence process prior to applying for and subsequently receiving the subsidy.

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“Like many other organizations across Canada who applied and received this funding, we have been impacted by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) audits,” the statement read. “We are working on options for repayment which will be brought forward for consideration.”

A Regina resident said there was a lot of confusion over the CEWS funding for businesses during the pandemic.

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“There was a lot of confusion over that money — who can keep it, who pays it back, (and) what it does,” Malcolm Gutfriend said. “So, I think it’s just part of the confusion that’s shaking out right now. And I guess we have to make it right.”

Another local resident, Angela Burns, said this will be “detrimental” for REAL.

“They were counting on that money, and they didn’t expect something like this to happen to them,” she said. “The way inflation is going with money, it’s just really hard for everybody.”

According to the statement from REAL, as it continues to work on options for repayment, it will be brought forward to city council for consideration at the May 1 executive committee meeting.

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