OTTAWA – International Development Minister Christian Paradis says the Canadian government is extending the deadline for matching donations for Philippine typhoon relief to Dec. 23 from Dec .9.
He is urging Canadians to keep contributing to the aid effort for the stricken island nation and says the federal government will continue to match donations dollar-for-dollar.
Paradis is in the Philippines to get a first-hand view of relief efforts.
He says he is touched by the dedication and compassion of Canadian volunteers working in a Canadian Red Cross hospital in the city of Ormoc and by the work of the Canadian Forces.
An epidemiologist from the Public Health Agency of Canada is being dispatched to assist other international experts in gauging the risks of disease outbreaks in the typhoon aftermath.
The military’s Disaster Assistant Response Team is continuing to provide clean drinking water and clear roads on the island of Panay.
Canadian helicopters are scouting isolated, outlying islands to assess the relief effort needed.
Paradis said the scale of the disaster is hard to take in.
“It’s nearly impossible to comprehend and describe,” he said in a teleconference today.
“International humanitarian assistance is making a significant difference.”
Paradis said the Canadian effort in Ormoc is impressive.
“The co-ordination between the medical team and the team of the local hospital and other emergency services is incredible,” he said. “These people are perfoming surgeries and providing medial services of all kinds”
Canadian officials say they are still trying to contact six Canadians believed to be in the affected areas. Contact information and even information about their whereabouts before the typhoon hit are scanty, the officials said, but consular people are still looking for them.