Donating to Hurricane Fiona relief

SOUTHWEST COAST — Amidst all of the outpouring of support and fundraising efforts by artists, musicians, the government, corporations and individuals during the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, are some lingering questions about the funds that have been raised for the displaced residents and the charities that are working with them.

In Port aux Basques, organizations such as the Canadian Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the Lions Club have been offering assistance to those affected by the hurricane, with the Red Cross distributing the bulk of the financial assistance package.

According to Charity Intelligence Canada (CIC), a group which aims to provide Canadians with clear information that will allow them to make informed and intelligent decisions when choosing where to send their donations, the Salvation Army for example, puts $0.83 of every dollar donated toward their charitable programs.

In a financial breakdown of their 2021 fiscal year, the Salvation Army reported $925,991 in total revenues: $244,253 of which came from donations, and $531,858 from their revenues went directly to Canadian and International programs such as Shelter and Drug Withdrawal Management, Healthcare, and Community and Family Services. Another $75,593 went to administrative, fundraising, and other costs associated with the organization, leaving over $300,000 to go into their funding reserves, which currently sits at approximately $1.39 million.

CIC also offers a complete financial breakdown for the Canadian Red Cross who, in comparison to the Salvation Army, gives $0.74 cents from every dollar to their programs, like Emergency Management, International Operations, Health and Community Wellness, and Prevention and Safety.

In a financial breakdown of their 2021 fiscal year, the Canadian Red Cross received a total revenue of $557,372. A total of $136,228 came from donations and $473,915 went to Canadian and International programs. Then $49,368 went to administrative and fundraising costs leaving just over $34,000 for their funding reserves, which are currently sitting at approximately $215,000.

For 2022, things will look a little bit different for the Red Cross as they have been charged with distributing the provincial government funding to those affected by Hurricane Fiona as part of the disaster relief program.

In response to email inquiries, Dan Bedell, Communications Director – Atlantic, offered the following break down.

“There are two separate components to the Canadian Red Cross response to Fiona in Newfoundland and Labrador. The first, as you know, is financial assistance and emergency accommodations we are administering on behalf of the provincial government including:

• The one-time amounts to households displaced or evacuated from their primary home, either $1,000 if they were able to return home on or before Sept. 30, and $10,000 if they remained out of their homes after Sept. 30 or still are out, cases where houses were destroyed/condemned/unrepairable.

• The “Reimbursements for Necessities Related to Health and Safety” program that can reimburse qualified households up to $2,500 for specific items or services bought between Sept. 24 and Dec. 15 because of Fiona. Receipts must be provided and applications submitted by Dec. 31. The eligibility period and deadline to apply were just extended as announced by Premier Andrew Furey during his visit to Channel-Port aux Basques.

• Arranging emergency lodging for people displaced from their homes. While this number had been more than 100 at various points, as of today we are still supporting 54 people in and around Channel-Port aux Basques with hotel accommodation.

“The other assistance program is funded entirely by the Canadian Red Cross thanks to its donors across Canada. We’ve been issuing one-time payments of $500 to eligible households in the most impacted areas that registered with the Red Cross and confirmed they are unable to meet basic needs due to Fiona impacts or identified some particular hardship or unique need. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the areas eligible for Red Cross financial support are Channel-Port Aux Basques, Margaree-Fox Roost, Rose Blanche – Harbour le Cou, Diamond Cove, Burnt Islands, Burgeo, Isle aux Morts and Grand Bay East areas.”

In his email, Bedell also explained that administrative fees are worked into the equation.

“For the programs we are administering on behalf of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, this work is being done under contracts with the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development and/or Department of Justice and Public Safety. Such contracts include an administrative component, so any costs we incur are negotiated with and approved by government and fully reimbursed. Since the response to Fiona is still under way and will continue for some time yet, and the scope of our work changes as new needs are identified, these amounts are not yet finalized,” said Bedell. “For the financial aid being distributed by the Red Cross from donations we’ve received from individuals, businesses and others across Canada to a fund we named the “Hurricane Fiona in Canada” appeal, the cost of fundraising will not exceed five per cent. We also strive to keep the portion used for any other administrative costs as small as possible, but that percentage will only be known once the response has ended and we know the total of all donations received and how they were allocated.”

To date there has been just over $30 million donated to the Hurricane Fiona in Canada Appeal.

“That does not yet include an amount the federal government has said it will match based on individual and corporate donations received up to Oct. 31. The vast majority of those funds have been committed to helping people in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, which saw widescale impacts and had by far the largest numbers of affected households. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the major storm damage, although catastrophic for many families, was thankfully confined to a smaller area and smaller number of households.”

Currently, the Red Cross has distributed $44.1 million to 83,390 households throughout the Atlantic region with $17.7 million on behalf of the provincial governments of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, and $26.4 million on behalf of Red Cross donors.

"In Newfoundland and Labrador, to date we’ve distributed $2.56 million to about 730 households. That includes 298 households that qualified for the provincial government’s $1,000 lump-sum payments and 179 households that qualified for the provincial $10,000 lump-sum payments,” explained Bedell. “Most of those also qualified for $500 from the Red Cross, but additionally we’ve provided $500 to about 250 other households that may not have qualified for the $1,000 or $10,000 provincial payments – ‘household’ could be one person or a family or a group sharing a house/apartment.”

For further information on charitable organizations in Canada and the percentage of donations distributed to programs and individuals in need, visit www.charityintelligence.ca.

Representatives for the Salvation Army and Lions International did not respond to media requests in time for publication deadline.

During Premier Furey's recent visit to outline the relief package available to Southwest Coast residents who lost their homes to the storm, he spoke briefly about the We Stand On Guard Again concert, noting that many who donated assumed the funds would remain within the province. But the monies were donated to the Canadian Red Cross. Furey indicated that he was attempting to get the funds redirected to Newfoundland, but that would take time. His office also did not respond to media inquiries prior to publication deadline.

Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wreckhouse Weekly News