One year later: Red Cross remains committed to recovery in Fort McMurray

April 24, 2017

One year later: Red Cross remains committed to recovery in Fort McMurray
$244 million spent to help the people of Wood Buffalo  

Almost one year ago, the people of the Wood Buffalo region were fleeing as wildfires tore through their communities and homes. In the months following the disaster, an unprecedented $323 million was donated by individuals, community groups and companies across Canada, including matching funds from the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta, to directly help those affected by the fires. The Red Cross has spent and committed $244 million to date, which represents 75 per cent of the total funds.

From providing immediate emergency assistance in the early aftermath and continuing to assist with unmet needs, to funding community projects, and providing financial assistance to eligible local small businesses, the help provided reflects what citizens and authorities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo have identified as priorities for their communities. With the impact of the fires still being felt first-hand by individuals, families, small businesses and local community groups, the support of the Red Cross remains crucial to recovery.


The generosity of Canadians is enabling the Red Cross to have impact in the following ways:
  • 231 million allocated; ($183 million spent and committed to date) to support individuals and families.
    • Nearly 65,000 families registered to receive support from the Red Cross.
    • More than 126,400 electronic fund transfers provided direct financial assistance to help residents pay for things like rent, mortgage, utilities, household goods, food, gas and clothing.
    • More than 19,000 one-on-one confidential appointments have helped assist people through their personal recovery process.
  • 50 million allocated; ($24 million spent and committed to date) to support community groups and initiatives.
    • 54 partnerships with community organizations are being funded to provide holistic, community-driven recovery activities. This includes a variety of projects and initiatives such as special events for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Indigenous communities, supplying teachers and students with back-to-school items, providing summer and recreation camps for children and youth, providing support to local food banks and the local homeless shelter, supporting community-led wellness groups, and supporting several community celebrations upon returning home.
  • 30 million allocated; ($28.5 million spent and committed to date) to support eligible small businesses.
    • More than 3,200 eligible small businesses received financial assistance to help cover costs such as the replacement of essential items including business tools and equipment; assistance with clean-up expenses; moving or storage; professional cleaning; small repairs; help with overdue utility bills; lease payments; and, short-term lease of business equipment or vehicles. 

These allocations reflect the needs that have been identified to date, as of April 13, 2017. Red Cross works with communities to help assist and guide them along their road to recovery, at the pace in which they are ready. Many needs emerge over time and the allocation amounts may be adjusted accordingly. Red Cross assistance will not duplicate existing support available from municipal or provincial governments, or from insurance.

Donations are held in a separate trust fund to be used only for Alberta Fires relief and recovery efforts. The fundraising costs related to this emergency appeal will not exceed five per cent. All remaining donated funds will be used for Red Cross operations to support vulnerable people, families and communities affected by this disaster. This includes a small portion of funds, one and a half percent, which ensures the Canadian Red Cross is ready and prepared to respond to future disasters. Fundraising costs are associated to the total funds donated to date ($189 million), not the grand total including the matching funds ($323 million).

“One year after the wildfires, the Canadian Red Cross is still working alongside the people of Wood Buffalo. We know that recovery from a disaster takes time, and we will continue to support these resilient communities at their own pace, helping in times of struggle, and cheering in times of success. To the residents of the Fort McMurray area, as long as you need us, the Red Cross will be with you.” Conrad Sauvé, president and CEO, Canadian Red Cross

“Canadians everywhere responded to the Fort McMurray wildfire with enormous generosity, saying both in spirit and in hard cash: “Hey Fort Mac, we’ve got your back!”. The Government of Canada was proud to match Canadians’ donations of over $104 million dollars to the Red Cross in support of urgent and long-term relief efforts for the costliest fire disaster in Canadian history.  I am very grateful for the hard work the Red Cross did to make this happen for the courageous people of Fort McMurray.” The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“Assistance from the Canadian Red Cross has had a direct, personal impact on tens of thousands of individuals, families and businesses in our community. Your support has sustained us at every step of this journey and we are deeply grateful for your kindness and generosity.” Melissa Blake, Mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

About the Canadian Red Cross

Here in Canada and overseas, the Red Cross stands ready to help people before, during and after a disaster. As a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – which is made up of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and 190 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies – the Canadian Red Cross is dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and throughout the world.
  • English Media Line: 1-877-599-9602
  • French Media Line: 1-888-418-9111
  • Alberta Media Line: 1-403-541-4431