Canadians Just Mild About Helping Alberta

Oil companies and corporations accounted for most donations to last summer’s Alberta flood victims despite claims of a public outpouring of relief, records show.

The Canadian Red Cross confirmed less than one-third of donations it received were from individual Canadians, with nearly 70% from corporate donors.  The agency would not disclose what portion came from companies based in Alberta, itself.

“As a national organization we do not track donations down to that level,” a Red Cross spokesperson told Blacklock’s. 

No professional fundraisers would agree to an interview. However informal polling by one Conservative MP identified conflicted opinion on the topic.  The online survey by MP Ed Holder of London West, Ont., asked: “Will you consider making a donation to charities in order to help the Alberta flood victims?” Forty-seven percent said yes; 40 percent said no; 13 percent were “unsure”. Holder did not comment.

The Canadian Red Cross had appealed for “urgent help” to aid southern Albertans after June floods killed four people and forced the evacuation of 65,000 people in the Calgary area.  Donations totaled $33 million in cash and gifts, with $22 million from corporations and $11 million worth of “financial and in-kind donations from individuals and community groups.”

The Red Cross would not detail how much it collected from individual Canadians living outside Alberta. “We do not have the provincial breakdowns,” a spokesperson said.

The $33 million in aid was one of the largest fundraising responses to a domestic disaster, compared to other Canadian Red Cross campaigns including:

  • $2.5 million following a 1987 tornado in Edmonton that killed 27 people;
  • $5.5 million in relief for Slave Lake, Alta. after wildfires destroyed 552 homes in 2012;
  • $7.2 million for Lac-Mégantic, Que. following a fiery July 6 train derailment that killed 47 people;
  • $16.5 million for victims of 1997 flooding of Manitoba’s Red River in Manitoba that forced 25,000 people from their homes.

Oil and gas companies were the largest single corporate donors to Alberta flood relief, according to data compiled by the Business Civic Leadership Centre, a research agency of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Donors included Suncor Energy ($1.5 million); Cenovus Energy ($1 million); ConocoPhillips ($1 million); Canadian Natural ($1 million); Husky Energy ($1 million); PTTEP Canada Ltd. ($1 million); Statoil Canada Ltd. ($1 million); Shell Canada ($550,000); Encana Corp. ($500,000); Apache Canada Ltd. ($500,000); BP Canada ($450,000); Chevron ($150,000); Imperial Oil ($100,000); and Spectra Energy Corp. ($100,000).

By Tom Korski

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