More than $299 million has been raised to help the victims of the Fort McMurray wildfires, thanks to the donations of over one-million people and matching programs by the provincial and federal governments.
“The outpouring of support from across the country to help the people of the Fort McMurray area was a true Canadian moment,” Conrad Sauvé, president and CEO of the Canadian Red Cross, said.
“The matching funds announced today by the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta reflect the generosity of Canadians from coast to coast.”
To date, the Red Cross has given $84.4 million directly to families impacted by the Fort McMurray wildfire.
The federal and provincial governments will be offering additional support, in the form of $135 million for relief and recovery efforts.
Alberta announced it would contribute $30.3 million to match donations from Albertans. Ottawa said it would match the $104 million donated by Canadians.
“The best days of Fort McMurray lie ahead,” Calgary MP Kent Hehr said, adding the federal government will continue to work with the municipality and province to provide resources and support as the recovery and rebuilding efforts continue.
“The generosity of Albertans and Canadians during this crisis was overwhelming,” Alberta Minister of Municipal Affairs Danielle Larivee said.
“Our country truly pulled together to help Alberta in its time of need and our government will continue to work closely with the Canadian Red Cross to ensure the donations of Albertans are used to make a real difference in the lives of the people of Wood Buffalo as they recover from this devastating wildfire.”
Provincial donations will support the health and wellness of residents and the recovery of the local economy through targeted programs, the government said in a news release. The matching contribution will go to:
- Community partnership grants to local charitable, non-governmental and Indigenous organizations to support recovery;
- Relief for small business owners;
- Post-disaster supports like funding specific and long-term health initiatives and research.
Details about where exactly the funds would go won’t be revealed for a few more days, Larivee said.
Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake was on hand for the announcement and thanked Canadians for their continued support.
“We are so overwhelmed and thankful for the outpouring of support that individual Canadians and organizations across this country have shown during this trying time,” Blake said.
“With their efforts, we continue to be safe, resilient and together.”
A massive fire forced the evacuation of close to 90,000 people from the Fort McMurray area in three months ago.
The flames destroyed 2,400 homes and buildings, caused the shutdown of two key oilsands facilities and burned almost 5,900 square kilometres of timber.
Watch below: It’s been exactly three months since residents fled Fort McMurray as flames chased them from their homes. Some homeowners returned to rubble and were forced to start over from scratch. As Sarah Kraus reports, some residents are concerned a clause in their insurance policies will prevent them from accessing the money they need to rebuild.
Since early June, residents have been returning to the community to assess the damage and rebuild.
With a file from The Canadian Press
*EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally stated that the Red Cross announced it would assist wildfire victims who don’t have insurance or don’t have enough coverage. The organization later clarified that was not accurate. It is focused on helping those people right now because they have the most immediate needs, however Red Cross support is not intended to replace or act as insurance coverage.