A private ski club in Ontario, Canada received over half a million from the Canadian Federal Government for COVID wage relief. However, the exclusive resort plans to put that money towards facility improvements.
Mansfield Ski Club, an exclusive ski hill located in Mulmur, Ontario requires a $15,000 member fee with upwards of $10,000 in fees annually. The membership allows unlimited access to the ski area, lessons, a race team, a yoga studio, dining rooms, and a bar. Not only does it include access to the Mansfield facility, but also multiple other private clubs and golf courses like Toronto’s Royal Canadian Yacht Club, the Boulevard Club, and the Badminton and Racquet Club.
The club accumulated $815,000 in surplus over the past year, due to the government rollout of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program. The program was launched in April of 2020 and its purpose was to pay 75% of a company’s payroll with the goal that it would help keep many employees employed. For a company to be eligible, it simply had to exhibit a drop in revenue, either during the pandemic or over a specific time period.
Based on the requirements above, there are no signs that Mansfield broke any rules. The club‘s financial statements from the 2020-21 fiscal season show they paid $430,000 less in employee salaries and benefits. Therefore the club was qualified for CEWS.
The use of the government subsidy, however, remains questionable as the resort plans on using it for improvements to the facility, such as new washrooms for guests, a new ski patrol hut, and new snowmaking guns and air compressors to replace the old ones.
Mansfield is not the only recreation facility to receive funds through the CEW program. In fact, the Canadian Revenue Agency has 2,500 audits to complete regarding the CEW rollouts. The launch of the CEWS program was rushed and therefore resulted in many companies receiving an unnecessary surplus, based on data that may not have been representative of their actual financial situation. Such is the case for Mansfield Ski Club.
Funds that should have gone to employees are now funding high-tech snow blowers and other improvements while employees and now-closed businesses suffered.