Canadian relief contribution to Typhoon Yolanda Victims nears $40M; readying VISA Free entry for Students and Workers

Canada is the 4th largest donor to Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines

"One of the greatest humanitarian crises in the world's history. - "NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said

Canadians, both individuals and businesses, have donated almost $20 million to the relief effort in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

The government of Canada initially committed $5 million in aid money, and then added another $15 million Monday. Much of the second amount is matching money tied to individual Canadians' contributions.

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Total donations from Canada so far amount to almost $40 million, making Canada the fourth largest donor, after the U.S., the U.K. and Australia.

The powerful typhoon, which struck over a week ago, has affected 13 million people in the Philippines and displaced four million, according to figures from International Development Minister Christian Paradis, who spoke at a media briefing Tuesday.

The government has promised to match all individual donations to registered charities until Dec. 9. It will not match business donations.

The money donated by Canadians is in the hands of the charities, and the government does not yet have a figure breaking down what has come from individuals and businesses.

The $15 million announced by Harper at a Filipino church in Toronto on Monday is an estimate of the matching funds from government, and the figure may grow. However, the money was freed up so it could be spent immediately rather than wait for the charities to submit receipts.

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Paradis announced how the government has allocated money so far to the relief effort:

  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC): $2 million.
  • United Nations World Food Programme (WFP): $4 million.
  • United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF): $3 million.
  • World Health Organization (WHO): $800,000
  • United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): $200,000
  • CARE Canada: $1 million
  • Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada: $1 million
  • Oxfam Canada: $1.5 million
  • Plan Canada: $1.5 million
  • Save the Children Canada: $1 million
  • World Vision Canada: $2 million

17 Canadians still unaccounted for

Officials at the media briefing confirmed that 17 Canadians are still unaccounted for in the Philippines, although as communications continue to improve, the numbers of those missing are dropping. Ten more are still in unreachable areas, but have made some contact.

Col. Stephen Kelsey of Canadian Joint Operations Command told reporters that 64 Canadian Forces personnel left Trenton, Ont., on Monday, bringing the total to 300 in the Philippines working on the military's relief effort.

He said a second water purification unit left Monday. A third Griffin helicopter is on its way.

A Canadian mobile field hospital will be operational within 24 hours in the hard-hit city of Ormoc, in Leyte province, Kelsey said.

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Both opposition leaders led off question period Tuesday with inquiries about the Canadian relief effort. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair called the situation "one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the world's history."

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper to extend the deadline for matching donations until the end of December, and to grant visa exemptions for students and temporary workers from the typhoon-hit area.

"We will apply the appropriate flexibility," Harper replied. – CBC News

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