The Canadian Red Cross has garnered more than $60 million in donations from individuals and corporations across the nation in support of the victims of the Fort McMurray forest fires, deemed to be the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history.
The total does not include the amounts promised by the Albertan and federal governments, who pledged to match donations made by individuals. Dollars in aid raised have outstripped the $43.3 million donated in 2013 to provide relief for the southern Alberta Floods.
Leading the charge in philanthropy is Canadian giant Fairfax Financial Holdings, which boosted its initial gift of $200,000 to a full $1 million.
"Some 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray are enduring displacement from their homes and will have to begin rebuilding their homes and their lives after this devastation,” stated Prem Watsa, chairman and CEO of Fairfax, in a release. “Canadians have a long history of supporting each other in time of need, and we want to stand among all those Canadian individuals and Canadian companies who are extending themselves to provide support to the residents of Fort McMurray."
Insurance carriers have also generously given to the cause in addition to setting up emergency claims centres on location, as well as ramped up response. La Capital Insurance and Financial Group of Quebec has donated $25,000, and is providing Fort McMurray-area health and life clients with a three-month waiver.
Foresters Financial has also given $25,000, and has offered grants for members with immediate needs, arranged alternative premium payment schedules for those facing financial hardship, and has priority handling for all loan and withdrawal requests.
To top it off, RSA Canada has donated a full $100,000, and has announced it will also match donations made by its employees across the country.
The funds total the largest amount ever raised for a Canadian natural disaster. Other record-breaking natural disaster donations include the Lac Magentic rail disaster, which raised $14.8 million, and the $5.5 million given for aid during the Slave Lake fires in 2011.