July 14, 2017 1:17 pm

626 passports lost, damaged or destroyed in Fort McMurray wildfire

A man stands where his garage used to be in the Timberlea neighbourhood as people re-enter fire-ravaged Fort McMurray, Alta., on Thursday, June 2, 2016.

Codie McLachlan, The Canadian Press

Waiving fees to replace passports and other documents lost in last year’s Fort McMurray wildfire cost Ottawa close to $130,000 in foregone revenue.

The May 2016 disaster displaced some 88,000 people in the northern Alberta city for at least a month as flames consumed 10 per cent of its buildings.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: ‘The beast’ finally under control

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A remission order posted on the federal government’s website this week says 626 passports needed replacing because they were lost, damaged or destroyed in Canada’s costliest natural disaster.

READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: $3.6B in damage, says Insurance Bureau of Canada 

In addition, 48 new permanent resident cards and 32 new citizenship certificates were issued free of charge.

The order notes that the government took similar steps in 2013 following the catastrophic southern Alberta floods and the devastating train derailment and explosion in Lac Megantic, Que.

READ MORE: Ottawa’s bill for disaster relief soars as frequency, severity of calamities escalate 

It says anyone in Fort McMurray who applied for replacement passports between May 3 and Sept. 6, 2016 and submitted supporting documentation did not have to pay.

For permanent resident cards and citizenship certificates, the deadline was Aug. 3, 2016.

“At that time, it was deemed in the public interest to assist in providing a quick return to normalcy for individuals whose lives were affected, many of whom were in crisis situations for long periods of time,” the order said.

“They experienced loss of income, employment, unanticipated out-of-pocket expenses and interim costs pending insurance and provincial assistance. Replacement costs for the documents would have imposed an additional burden.”

Watch below: Continuing coverage of the Fort McMurray wildfire from Global News

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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