Filipino Wildfire Victims in Canada Lament Slow Government Action

More than a week since the huge wildfires in Alberta, Canada, Filipinos affected by lamented the apparent lack of enough help extended by the Philippine government.

The massive fires forced nearly 90,000 residents to flee Alberta’s Fort McMurray area. Among those displaced are Filipinos who said the Philippine government has not done enough to help them.

“Nandiyan kami ngayon nakatira sa may Stony Plain sa may hotel. Complimentary lang po yan hindi namin alam kong hangang kailan. According sa employer namin, hanggang May 20 lang pero hindi namin alam kung after May 20 saan na kami pupulutin,” said Diony Corcelle.

While Consul Eric Aquino announced that the Philippine Consulate in Alberta has waived consular fees for documents like affidavits and special power of attorney, fees for passport services remain imposed.

“I-charge lang is the cost of the booklet. Its open to all Edmonton residents but priority will be given to Fort McMurray victims especially sa mga TFWs kasi sila yung mas may pangangailangan,” said Aquino.

But this apparently wasn’t enough to Filipinos, some of which have lost their homes and are now staying at a shelter at the Northlands Centre.

“Ano ba ginagawa niyo ngayon? Wala man lang kayong maitulong sa amin. Hindi naman mahirap tumawag sa embassy para sana mag provide kahit financing lang sana sa amin dito. Sana naman umaksiyon kayo. Buong pamilya ko, hanggang ngayon, nasunog ang bahay namin. Naghahanap kami ng matitirahan,” said Laureto Dayag, who lost his home and is now staying at a shelter at Northlands Centre.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Filipinos displaced by the Fort McMurray fire were treated to a dinner hosted by the Filipino community in Edmonton. A fundraiser was also held, proceeds of which will be turned over to the Canadian Red Cross.

The wildfire still covers about 2,410 sq km (930 sq miles) and is expected to burn for a few more weeks.

Travel to Fort McMurray is still restricted to emergency response units and essential services only.