As the recovery efforts continue in Fort McMurray following last month’s devastating wildfire, the federal government has committed $300 million to Alberta through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) program.
The Feds made the announcement in Edmonton Friday afternoon, saying this is the first time a payment of this kind has been expedited so quickly in Canada.
“This is the payment thus far. We fully expect that there will be additional obligations but we wanted to get this amount of money, about $300 million, into the hands of Albertans as quickly as possible,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said.
The federal government said the payment is based on a preliminary audit of damage caused by the fire.
When to comes to how the money will be spent, Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee said the DFAA has a number of eligible expenses that can be submitted for reimbursement.
“A big piece of that is the actual response to the disaster and assistance with that. From the actual emergency response – in terms of the emergency operations centre, expenses above and beyond what would be normal operation – through to the immediate support for evacuees such as housing, for example,” Larivee said.
Watch below: Larivee estimates the Fort McMurray wildfire will cost $615 million in costs eligible under DFAA
Watch below: We’re getting a better idea of just how much the Fort McMurray wildfire has cost the province. As Tom Vernon explains, the bill has now topped $600 million.
Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr said the Canadian government will also commit an additional $90 million to Alberta, fulfilling its commitment to match donations made by Canadians to the Red Cross.
The Alberta government is also matching Canadian Red Cross donations to the tune of $30 million, which the province said matches the donations made by Albertans.
Both orders of government said they are working with the Red Cross to determine how the money will be used to support relief efforts.
The announcements were made at the Alberta Legislature following a meeting between representatives of the provincial and federal governments.
The announcement came as Fort McMurray continues to recover from last month’s devastating wildfire.
Strides in the recovery efforts have been made over the past few weeks since residents began returning home on June 1.
Earlier this week, the fire ban was lifted in Fort McMurray, as was the air quality advisory. While the boil water advisory remains in place for some regions, it was lifted for more neighbourhoods within Fort McMurray.
On Thursday, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo announced new enhanced security measures aimed to ensure only residents and approved visitors were able to access the three restricted areas of Fort McMurray.
The communities of Abasand, Beacon Hill and Waterways are restricted, deemed uninhabitable due to toxins.
On May 3, more than 80,000 people were forced to flee Fort McMurray because of the wildfire, dubbed “the beast.” About one-tenth of the community’s buildings were destroyed.
With a file from The Canadian Press.