Canada to donate $15M more to Philippines relief effort
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the total contribution is now $20M
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced an additional $15 million in relief aid Monday for the typhoon-ravaged Philippines, bringing the total Canadian government contribution to $20 million.
Harper was speaking Monday at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Parish, where he met with members of Toronto's Filipino-Canadian community.
The government said Friday that $15 million had been donated by individuals and businesses for the relief effort. The money contributed by individuals will be matched by the government until Dec. 9.
At a media briefing Monday, Canadian Embassy staff in the Philippines said that so far no Canadians have been reported dead or seriously injured due to damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan.
The typhoon struck the Philippines over a week ago, affecting 10 million people.
At the morning briefing by military and embassy officials in Ottawa, it was revealed 39 Canadians are either still unaccounted for or are being assisted by consular staff in finding transportation out of damaged areas.
Some are said to be receiving financial assistance.
Ambassador-designate Neil Reeder, speaking by phone from the Philippines, said five extra consular staff are working at the embassy in Manila, and two more are on their way.
Lt.-Col. Walter Taylor, commander of Canada's Disaster Assistance Relief Team (DART), said on the phone from the city of Roxas that a water purification system is expected to be working by Wednesday, and three more units are on their way to the Philippines.
He said Canadian staff have visited three hospitals, a church shelter and a funeral home in Roxas, but haven't come across any Canadians who need help.
Why DART is in Roxas
There have been questions about why the DART unit is in Roxas, rather than in the much harder-hit area of Tacloban.
Taylor, in an interview with CBC reporter Susan Ormiston in Roxas on Sunday, agreed the medium-sized city does not have "the most need." He said people in Roxas who are safe because they were evacuated and are living in shelters will soon be at risk of "infectious diseases, lack of food, lack of shelter and particularly lack of clean drinking water."
Ormiston, who has been reporting from Roxas for a few days, pointed out that in the evacuation centres, things seemed to be "reasonably working."
Taylor said he was surprised initially when the Philippine government sent the DART team to Roxas rather than Tacloban. But, he added, after talking to the government and aid organizations, "What meets the eye is not necessarily the same as what the situation is."
He said people were in danger of succumbing to starvation or disease, and that's what his team is trying to prevent. "I strongly believe needs are real and what we're doing here is the right thing."
Ormiston asked him about the cost of bringing DART to Roxas. Taylor said the DND (Department of National Defence) in Ottawa might be able to answer."
Col. Stephen Kelsey, of Canadian Joint Operations Command, said Monday in Ottawa that no figures are currently available about the costs of deploying the DART units.
Two Griffin helicopters are on their way to the Philippines, and one more will follow.
Taylor told Ormiston that once the helicopters are in operation, his team will be able to access the more remote island communities. The helicopters will fly in a non-government organization that has a portable water purification unit, he said.