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As summer 2017 drew to close, British Columbians were hoping that the change of season would bring a merciful end to months of destructive and costly wildfires. Since April, volunteers, communities, governments and businesses have pitched in to assist evacuees and those impacted by nearly 1,000 fires across the province – the worst fire season in the province’s history. Business Council members were in the forefront of efforts to provide financial and other forms of relief.
Canadian Tire stores, Loblaw supermarkets and London Drug branches functioned as drop-off hubs for Red Cross donations. Many also offered emergency pharmacy services and free charging stations for evacuees. Intact Insurance offered on-the-ground support to its customers, with agents providing claims assistance, compensation for emergency living expenses and counseling resources. Great-West Life, Sun Life Financial and CN Rail pledged $25,000 each in support for wildfire victims. TELUS offered to match donations up to $60,000, and Rogers doubled its original $25,000 donation to $50,000.
Canada’s banks also stepped up, offering flexible banking services and donation drop-off facilities. Manulife donated $25,000 and pledged to match employee contributions up to $10,000. Scotiabank, CIBC, RBC, TD and BMO each gave $50,000 to the Canadian Red Cross, while HSBC pledged $100,000. “With our deep roots in British Columbia, our hearts and minds are with the people and businesses dealing with the loss and uncertainty created by the wildfires,” said Sandra Stuart, President and CEO of HSBC Bank Canada.