Fort McMurray relief donations hit $54M: Red Cross
Published Monday, May 9, 2016 1:29PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 9, 2016 3:08PM EDT
The Canadian Red Cross says it has so far received $54 million in donations for Fort McMurray wildfire relief efforts.
The latest total does not include matching funds promised by the provincial and federal governments. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that Ottawa will match individual donations to the Red Cross up to May 31, without a cap.
"I want to thank Canadians for their extraordinary generosity in supporting the people of Fort McMurray," Trudeau tweeted Monday. "This is our country at its best."
During question period in the House of Commons on Monday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale commended the Red Cross for its “magnificent job” in responding to the crisis.
“The Red Cross has proven to be an enormous and valuable partner in dealing with the immediate crisis of this situation,” he said. “They have extraordinary depth and reach and capacity to provide the kind of immediate emergency assistance that was required in the very short term in dealing with those circumstances.”
Moving forward, Goodale said the government will “examine all possibilities” for how it can help Fort McMurray recover.
Atlantic provinces, where many Fort McMurray residents originate from, have also pledged $250,000 to the Canadian Red Cross.
Jean-Pierre Taschereau, the director of emergency operations for the Canadian Red Cross, said the organization is currently focusing on providing financial assistance to Fort McMurray evacuees who need basic items, such as mattresses, toiletries and diapers.
Taschereau told CTV News Channel on Monday that the majority of evacuees are staying with family, friends or other generous hosts, so information about how to get help is still trickling down to them.
For those who are staying in evacuation centres set up in communities outside of Fort McMurray, the Red Cross is providing beds, cots and other basic essentials.
“We’re also looking at the moment that people are going to be allowed to return to their homes, what kind of support they will need for the early recovery efforts in terms of cleaning up, replacing lost items and so on,” Taschereau said.
Donations can be made by visiting the Red Cross website, calling 1-800-418-1111, or texting the word “REDCROSS” to 30333 to make a $5 donation.