Fort McMurray requests for federal assistance have been met, Justin Trudeau says
$30M has been raised to help Fort McMurray evacuees, Canadian Red Cross says
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is doing all it can to assist Albertans as a wildfire in Fort McMurray continues to grow for a fourth straight day.
A raging wildfire has forced the evacuation of more than 88,000 people from Fort McMurray, in what has been described as the largest fire evacuation in the province's history.
"Our government has met all of the Alberta government's request for assistance, including providing air assets and 7,000 cots for evacuees in emergency shelters, with 13,000 more on the way," Trudeau said from Toronto on Friday, in an update on Ottawa's response to the wildfire.
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The prime minister added the federal government will not put a financial cap on a promise to match individual donations, made from May 3 to 31, to the Canadian Red Cross in support of relief efforts. So far, some $30 million has been raised to help the evacuees.
Conrad Sauvé, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Red Cross, said some 14,000 families in need of assistance have registered with the relief agency.
"We're encouraging everybody who needs assistance to register with the Red Cross," he said on Friday.
Ontario Community Safety Minister Yaser Naqvi said the province has offered to help the Alberta government by sending firefighters along with any equipment they will need to combat the raging wildfires.
"Approximately 100 or so will be travelling to Alberta and I believe there's a significant number leaving today," he said during a local announcement in Ottawa with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Trudeau said his office continues to be in "constant contact" with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to provide any additional support that's needed.
"We are working with the premier and the emergency authorities extremely closely to deliver on everything they need. We understand that this is still an active situation — the wildfires are still raging, we're not expecting rain for another couple of days, which is still of concern to all of us," Trudeau said on Friday.
Asked about a visit to Fort McMurray, Trudeau said he would do so in the coming weeks but that for now the best thing he could do was to stay out of the way and let emergency responders do their work.
"I think we're all aware that a prime minister showing up in Fort McMurray when firefighters are busy trying to contain a massive, raging wildfire is not a particularly helpful thing," he said.
"I can't say I look forward to it, because just the pictures are troubling enough, but I know that it is going to be extremely important that I get out there."
'Huge gaps' in Indigenous communities
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale spent the day meeting with provincial and territorial ministers responsible for emergency preparedness to discuss a range of issues, including how to better respond to emergencies in northern and Indigenous communities.
The northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency last month over several suicide attempts, but other First Nations communities in Ontario also declared public health emergencies since the beginning of the year.
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"There are huge needs there and huge gaps in our system there and we have all agreed that these are gaps that we need to pay attention to and we need to fill," Goodale said Friday after the meeting.
Goodale said that Perry Bellegarde, the national chief for the Assembly of First Nations, took part in the meeting and stressed the need to make emergency management measures in Indigenous communities "more effective."
Goodale said that in the case of large-scale natural disasters, the federal government provides financial assistance to provincial and territorial governments through a program called the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements.
"For the very large disasters like you're facing in Fort McMurray, the federal share is very likely to be right at the maximum at 90 per cent," he said.
While Friday's meeting was previously scheduled to coincide with Emergency Preparedness Week, Goodale said "the irony" of the timing was not lost on him.
"Our meeting is particularly timely in view of the unprecedented situation unfolding in Fort McMurray," he said from Toronto on Friday.
"We have seen an outpouring of emotion and support all across the country as Canadians see the images of what is transpiring in Fort McMurray... and to say emphatically, we're standing with you and we have your back."
Goodale said he signed a renewed memorandum of understanding with the Canadian Red Cross Friday detailing how the organization will continue to work together with the government "on matters of emergency management and disaster risk reduction."
Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose is in her riding of Sturgeon River–Parkland in Edmonton where she was joined by other Alberta Conservative MPs. In an interview with CBC News Network, Ambrose thanked Canadians for their support for people affected by the fires.