Politics

Fort McMurray wildfire: Justin Trudeau to survey damage on Friday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will visit the fire-devastated community of Fort McMurray, Alta., on Friday and offer residents there the support of Canadians.

Details on disbursement of funds raised by the Canadian Red Cross coming Wednesday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked firefighters who have been battling the Alberta wildfires and said he would visit the fire ravaged region around Fort McMurray on Friday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will visit the fire-devastated community of Fort McMurray, Alta., on Friday.

Trudeau announced the trip during question period in Parliament today.

"I am pleased to confirm, Mr. Speaker, that I will be going personally to Fort McMurray on Friday to offer up some support for all Canadians."

Canadians got a glimpse of the devastation caused by the raging wildfire for the first time on Monday when Alberta Premier Rachel Notley allowed reporters to tour the charred streets with her and other city officials.

The tour revealed that while the wildfire forced the evacuation of more than 88,000 people from Fort McMurray, the majority of the city remains intact.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked firefighters in Alberta and told MPs Tuesday he will travel to the fire-stricken area to offer support on behalf of Canadians. 0:44

Notley announced today that oil workers would be allowed to drive straight through Highway 63 as oilsands facilities north of Fort McMurray look to restart their operations.

"Expect many companies to resume production in coming days and weeks," Notley said on Tuesday afternoon following a meeting with energy company executives.

Nearly 20,000 people affected by the natural disaster in Fort McMurray have applied for employment insurance so far, according to the most recent data provided by Employment and Social Development Canada.

The prime minister's statement came after Conservative MP Andrew Scheer urged the federal government to make "significant investment" in Fort McMurray to ensure that residents have jobs to come back to.

Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, talks about the impact of the Fort McMurray wildfire on the country's oil industry. 11:16

In an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr was asked if he thought the situation in Fort McMurray would prompt him to speed things up, or provide the "political capital" needed to get pipelines through as part of the rebuilding effort.

"Canadians will be asked to give their opinions of all of these projects," the federal minister told host Rosemary Barton, as they discussed the fire and pending pipeline projects. 

"Some have already, there will be additional time for others to weigh in, over time, and it could be that they will be impacted by what has happened in northern Alberta that will motivate their decision to appear in front of the regulator, or in front of the government."

​Trudeau said last week he wanted to let firefighters and other emergency responders do their work before travelling to Fort McMurray, for fear that going too soon would not be "a particularly helpful thing."

Details on disbursement of funds

The Canadian Red Cross said it will announce on Wednesday details on how it will use money donated for emergency relief.

Trudeau met with Conrad Sauvé, the president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Red Cross, on Parliament Hill Tuesday.

"Since the Alberta wildfires triggered the largest fire-related evacuation in provincial history, more than 700 Red Cross personnel have worked non-stop to register more than 80,000 people," the Red Cross said in a written statement.

By Monday night, the relief agency said it had raised approximately $60 million, with $51 million coming from individual donations.

Trudeau has said the federal government will match all individual donations made from May 2 to 31 without imposing a cap.

Today, Trudeau thanked interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose for her "strong engagement" on the ground and Canadians for their generous contributions to the relief efforts by the Canadian Red Cross.

Ambrose, who represents the riding of Sturgeon River–Parkland in Edmonton, has been in the region since last Friday.

The prime minister faced questions on Monday about turning down international offers of help from countries such as Russia, the U.S., Mexico, Australia, Taiwan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Trudeau said that thanks to all of the assistance offered by different levels of government domestically, Canada didn't need help from other countries at this time.

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