The emergency payment program that has helped approximately 96,000 Wood Buffalo evacuees, forced from their homes in the wake of the massive Fort McMurray wildfire this past May, is ending Oct. 31.
The program – which has provided wildfire relief funding totalling almost $100 million – was intended to cover immediate housing needs and day-to-day purchases, as well as to “limit out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the evacuation,” notes a statement this week from the Alberta government.
Longer-term supports are available that will help Albertans rebuild, the provincial statement continues.
“Having to flee your home and leave your belongings behind is incredibly hard, and we reached out quickly to ensure evacuees had financial assistance to help them through this difficult time,” municipal affairs minister Danielle Larivee says in the statement.
“After helping 96,000 people, we must continue to come together and shift our focus from short to long-term supports,” Larivee reports.
Eligible Albertans who have not yet applied for wildfire relief funding have until Oct. 31, 2016 to apply at Alberta Works Centres, the statement notes. As well, eligible Albertans requiring emergency benefits can apply for supports through the Alberta Works Income Support program.
Small businesses recovering from the wildfire will have access to two complementary recovery programs as they resume operations and support their employees. The first – funded by the governments of Alberta, Canada and the Canadian Red Cross – will provide up to $20,000 to cover costs, including new equipment, property damage and clean-up; the second – with funding from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo – provides small businesses with wages and labour assistance.