Red Cross getting most of Ottawa's donations to help Fort McMurray fire victims
Ottawans still opening their wallets to help with fundraising efforts across National Capital Region
The devastation caused by the Fort McMurray fire in Alberta continues to move people in Ottawa to open their wallets to the Canadian Red Cross, but a charity watchdog would like to see more support for other charities that are helping fire victims.
The Canadian Red Cross revealed Monday people across the country have donated more than $54 million to date, outpacing the generosity following the Alberta flood in 2013.
Local fundraisers and donors say the Red Cross has become the obvious choice.
"It's a great initiative," said Ann Winfield, who made a donation Monday while getting groceries at the Real Canadian Superstore on Richmond Road.
Donating to Red Cross easy in Ottawa
The store is owned by Loblaw Companies, which is collecting individual donations across Canada.
Winfield said she'd been looking for a place to donate, and it helps when she knows her $10 will become $20 with the federal matching program.
We've been moved and heartbroken.- Ann Winfield, donor
"We've been moved and heartbroken. It felt like we wanted to do something. We had to do someting," she said.
That feeling is fuelling a lot of good will in the nation's capital.
The Ottawa butcher shop Sasloves Meat Market held a draw Monday for a whole Alberta strip loin after collecting donations all weekend.
Staff at the store said people walked in off the street to donate without purchasing anything, adding up to more than $650 for the fundraiser. The store made the most of their customers' largesse by noting on a sandwich board outside they'd raised more than $1,300 with the federal government's matching donation.
"We've seen this outpouring of support throughout the country," said Sauvé, who was visibly moved by the generosity. "This is a really extraordinarily strong moment in Canada of everybody expressing their solidarity."
Local charities short changed, watchdog says
Charity Intelligence Canada monitors the work of charities and how they spend their money. The organization is recommending a number of local charities in Alberta which also need help.
However, Sauvé said local organizations do benefit from donations to the Red Cross. About 26 per cent of donations following the Alberta floods in 2013 went to local charities, he said.
The federal government also defends the decision to match only donations to the Red Cross.
"The Red Cross is providing essential immediate relief and assistance. The matching program will support Canadians' generosity right away. Over the long term, there will be opportunity to consider the support required for recovery and the partners to provide it," wrote Scott Bardsley, a press secretary with the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, in an emailed statement.