Government of Canada announces emergency support for Vancouver Aquarium


Funding to Ocean Wise Conservation Association will help ensure the survival of this important tourist attraction and over 70,000 marine animals

VANCOUVER, BC, June 26, 2020 /CNW/ – The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on organizations of all sizes, forcing the closure of important businesses and tourist attractions across Canada. These closures have hurt revenues and forced many to issue layoffs and make difficult choices. That’s why the Government of Canada has taken strong action to protect jobs, stabilize our economy and provide relief through this difficult period.

Photo by Yaoqi LAI on Unsplash

As it reopens to visitors, Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, today announced emergency federal support for the Vancouver Aquarium.

Federal support for iconic BC tourist attraction affected by COVID-19

Totaling $2 million, this federal funding will support essential services at the aquarium, assisting it through the recovery period. This will help it to reopen to visitors, cover operational costs and ensure the survival of its marine animals.

Operated by the Ocean Wise Conservation Association, the Vancouver Aquarium has been an iconic BC attraction for over 60 years, thrilling residents of the Lower Mainland and tourists from around the world. Yet COVID-19 has resulted in its closure over the past few months, hurting revenues, imperiling jobs and threatening the aquarium’s ability to provide for the thousands of animals in its care.

The Government of Canada is committed to providing the support and resources needed to ensure that British Columbia remains a world-leading tourist destination.

Quick facts:

  • Operated by the OWCA, the Vancouver Aquarium is a marquee tourist attraction offering a rich mixture of marine conservation, education and scientific programming, and is Canada’s only marine mammal rescue facility.
  • The Vancouver Aquarium is home to thousands of ocean species, including rescued seals, sea lions and otters.
  • According to Destination BC, the tourism industry in British Columbia generated $20.5 billion in revenue in 2018 and employed 161,500 people.


“From majestic sharks to adorable sea lions, it’s not hard to see why the Vancouver Aquarium is one of British Columbia’s most beloved tourist attractions. While COVID-19 has had a serious impact on tourism, this significant support from Western Economic Diversification Canada will help the aquarium keep delighting visitors from across the Lower Mainland and around the world. Our message to the tourism industry is clear: we’re working with you to support good jobs and help BC tourism come back strong.”

–  The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, over 1 million visitors a year experienced the rich mixture of education and scientific programming offered by the Vancouver Aquarium. This funding will allow the Ocean Wise Conservation Association to continue inspiring the next generation of environmental stewards while providing the critical conservation work that keeps our oceans safe.”

–  Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and Member of Parliament for Burnaby North – Seymour

“British Columbia’s tourism sector has been hard hit by COVID-19 pandemic and needs help to recover in time for Canadians to explore their communities this summer and beyond. That is why we are providing targeted support to facilities like the Vancouver Aquarium that help attract visitors and support our local economy. We will continue to make every effort to keep Canadians safe while helping communities rebuild in the post-COVID-19 economy.”

–  Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Western Economic Diversification Canada) and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (Canada Water Agency)

“Ocean Wise is very grateful to the federal government for this emergency funding. Since closing the not-for-profit Vancouver Aquarium in March due to COVID-19, we lost almost all revenues while still being faced with more than $1 million a month in animal care and facility costs. We are still fighting for the Vancouver Aquarium’s long-term survival, but this support from Western Economic Diversification Canada is crucial. We are hopeful that the community will continue to support the 64-year-old Vancouver Aquarium, by buying a ticket and coming back to visit us, once we reopen to the public on June 26th.”

–  Lasse Gustavsson, President and CEO, Ocean Wise Conservation Association

Additional links

Follow the department on Twitter: @WD_Canada 

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SOURCEWestern Economic Diversification Canada


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