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Canada boosts aid to typhoon-stricken Philippines

Updated: 2013-11-19 18:59
( Xinhua)

OTTAWA - Canada significantly increased its humanitarian aid to the typhoon-stricken Philippines Monday with Prime Minister Stephen Harper announcing a further $14.4 million toward emergency relief, bringing Canada's total contribution to 19.2 million dollars.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those in the Philippines who have been devastated by Typhoon Haiyan," Harper said in a statement.  "We are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Filipino-Canadian families who have loved ones that have been affected by this tragic natural disaster."

The prime minister announced the additional support during a visit to a Catholic church in Toronto where he met members of the city's Filipino-Canadian community.

Ottawa's aid will likely hit 38.3 million dollars since it is matching private donations from Canadians, dollar-for-dollar until December 9 and those contributions are closing in on 19.2 million dollars, Harper said Monday.

Last week, the Canadian government dispatched an advance group from the country's military Disaster Assistance Response Team. As of Sunday, 237 Canadian soldiers were reportedly on the ground assisting with relief operations, such as the delivery of medical care, on the island of Panay.

On Sunday, two Canadian search-and-rescue helicopters and their crew were deployed to the Philippines aboard a military transport plane. The third chopper is scheduled to depart Tuesday.

The Canadian Armed Forces have also sent a water-purification unit, capable of producing up to 50,000 liters of safe drinking water per day, for residents of the Philippine provinces of Capiz and Iloilo, where it's estimated that 200,000 homes have either been damaged or destroyed and some 270,000 families have been displaced.

In addition, Citizenship and Immigration Canada is fast-tracking applications and allowing Filipinos on tourist or student visa to extend their stays in Canada on this compassionate ground.

Similarly, Canadians in the Philippines without travel documents as a result of the typhoon will have their applications expedited.

As of Monday, the official death toll following the typhoon also known as Yolanda was 3,976 with 1,602 people missing, according to the Philippine government's National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.