The destruction and devastation in Fort McMurray, Alberta has left many without homes, without work and questioning what is next. The catastrophic fires could not have come at a worse time with the province already dealing with the economic downturn in the oil industry and unemployment rising.

At press time, over 2,400 structures, mostly houses had been destroyed and over 88,000 had been evacuated to emergency centres. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley visited the region and said 90 per cent of buildings are still standing including hospitals and schools. The property damage is estimated to be in the billions.

In addition to the efforts of property and casualty insurers to help victims, Canada’s life insurance companies have also stepped up to help. Several have pledged support for the victims, including:

Foresters Financial is donating $25,000 to the Canadian Red Cross. Foresters has provided Emergency Assistance benefits to eligible members experiencing personal hardship. Foresters will amend it death claims procedures for members having trouble getting documentation. For claims of up to $50,000, members can submit an obituary instead of a death certificate.

Sun Life Financial has set up a hotline to help clients in Alberta and donated $100,000 to Canadian Red Cross to assist relief efforts. Sun Life will also match employee and Sun Life advisor personal donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to an additional total corporate maximum of $25,000.

Manulife has increased its original donation of $50,000 to $100,000 to the Red Cross appeal and after a pledge to match donations from Manulife employees, they raised  more than $50,000 that has been matched for a total of over $100,000.  So far Manulife has raised more than $200,000. Manulife has also announced insurance and individual investment customers will receive assistance with expedited access to funds or an extension of payment terms.

Green Shield Canada  (GSC), a drug benefits administrator, has pledged to donate $50,000 to the Fort McMurray appeal.  The company is also matching donations that GSC staff members make to the Red Cross appeal. In addition, GSC is making sure that impacted plan members get the medications they need by allowing Alberta pharmacies to refill prescriptions sooner than usual as many people have lost their medications or cannot access them due to the fires and evacuations.

iA Financial Group has donated $ 50,000 to the Canadian Red Cross for the people of Alberta affected by the fires. iA’s team of advisors and staff will offer their full support to the residents in the affected areas.

Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life donated $ 100,000 to the Red Cross “Alberta Forest Fires” fundraiser. Dave Johnston, president and chief operating officer for Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life said, “Our claims operations are actively aligning their practices to support customers. We will continue to monitor the needs of the community as the magnitude of the devastation is understood.”