The federal government has lifted the limit on the amount of money allocated for matching individual donations to Haitian earthquake relief, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Saturday.

The government had set aside $50 million in its dollar-for-dollar fund, but Harper said due to Canadians' "overwhelming generosity," the decision was made to remove the cap.

"My latest figures are that more than $67 million has been donated to eligible aid organizations, with $45 million to the Canadian Red Cross alone, in order to alleviate the suffering in the earthquake-ravaged country," Harper said.


Members of the Royal 22nd Regiment try to hold the line as they assist UN soldiers with crowd control at a food aid distribution point in Léogâne on Friday. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

At the same Ottawa briefing, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon announced that 17 Canadians have been confirmed among the dead in Haiti. That number rose to 18 later in the day.

Searchers looking through the rubble of the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince found the body of former Liberal MP Serge Marcil, his wife, Christiane Pelchat, confirmed Saturday.

How to help

To help those affected by the earthquake, here is a list of organizations accepting donations.

Marcil, 65, was working for an engineering firm and heading to the fifth floor of the hotel on the elevator when the quake struck, according to a colleague who was with him on the business trip.

"We offer our condolences to families and offer our prayers to friends and loved ones," Cannon said, adding that he expected the number of deaths involving Canadians to increase.

The number of Canadians still unaccounted for in affected areas has dropped to 236, while the number of the missing who have been located now stands at 1,139, he said.

Members of the Canadian Forces have been working non-stop for the past two days, searching through the rubble of collapsed buildings in the capital, Port-au-Prince, he said.

The team is focusing on the Hotel Montana and nearby sites. The quake flattened the five-storey hotel, which once stood on a hill overlooking the city.

The government has not said how many Canadians were staying at the Montana and Cannon did not say how the Montana site may have figured in the latest update of the number of dead.

"The days ahead will not be easy for Canadians who are without news of their loved ones," the minister said.

The Foreign Affairs emergency operations centre has received some 31,000 calls about Haiti.


Canadian Forces personnel from CFB Valcartier, Que., help an elderly woman walk over debris near a food aid distribution point in Léogâne on Friday. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

According to Cannon, about 190 Canadians are at the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince awaiting evacuation to Canada and he hopes that will happen "soon."

Cannon said 1,891 Canadians have been returned to Canada on 21 military flights, in addition to 265 on three commercial flights, for a total of 2,156 brought home.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the components of a Canadian field hospital will be arriving in the city of Léogâne, to the south of the capital, in the next 24 to 48 hours.

In the meantime, a 16-member Canadian Forces medical team continues to treat the sick and injured at Sainte Michel Hospital in Léogâne.

With files from The Canadian Press