Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Manitobans reach into wallets to help victims

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Manitoba is digging deeper to help the typhoon-ravaged Philippines.

"We're doubling the resources we're providing to the Philippines (from $100,000) to $200,000," Premier Greg Selinger said Tuesday prior to the throne speech.

"The scale of what's happened there in terms of the typhoon and the number of lives that have been lost is very, very unprecedented," Selinger said.

The federal government's pledge to send $5 million in disaster relief and match any individual donations falls far short of what Canada should be giving, said Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North).

"Given the magnitude of damages and loss of life, I think the federal government was being cheap. Five million dollars is a drop in the bucket."

Lamoureux said the federal government has been more generous with disaster aid to other countries that don't have close ties to Canada like the Philippines.

Ottawa should have started out offering $20 million in aid, Lamoureux said.

"Nationwide, there are close to one million people of Filipino heritage in Canada," he said.

In Winnipeg, there are 58,535, the 2011 census reported.

"Hundreds of thousands are glued to their TVs for news of relatives and are seeing many lives totally destroyed. This isn't a typical disaster."

The UN reports at least 10,000 are dead, an unknown number are missing and 673,000 have been displaced. About 11.3 million people have been affected in nine regions by Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda). It hit the Philippines Friday with wind speeds up to 275 kilometres per hour and heavy rainfall with storm surges up to six metres.

Winnipeg's Nick Lim, whose elderly sister lives in Cebu City, said he's just glad anyone is extending a hand to the worst-hit areas of the Philippines.

"I feel pity for those people — it's so hard," said Lim, who moved to Canada from Cebu province in 1981. His sister's city was touched by the typhoon but not destroyed.

"I just talked to her the other day."

The area north of Cebu City was harder hit. That's where the Winnipeg-based Mennonite Central Committee said it's sending a Peacebuilders Community disaster team. Tuesday, it was to fly into Cebu and Mindanao, then travel by barge to Leyte Island where thousands have died.

After surviving a string of natural disasters in the Philippines, including a recent earthquake, people there have now experienced the worst, Lim said.

"They're upset," said the retired hospital worker.

Normally he returns to visit family in Cebu every fall. This year, he's sending aid money.

"They need some help."

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird issued a statement Sunday saying the federal government is monitoring the situation to ensure humanitarian needs are met and further assistance will be provided if required.

No one from Baird's department was available to comment Tuesday.

Most Filipinos aren't about to bite the hand of anyone holding a fistful of financial aid, said Fred DeVilla, a longtime Winnipeg community leader.

"We are very thankful someone will give," he said. "It will help... We cannot say 'give more.' "

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 13, 2013 A6


Updated on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 10:50 AM CST: Date for donations changed

4:04 PM: URLs activated organization added to relief efforts

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