Trudeau Tours Fort McMurray, Extends Extra EI to Edmonton

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau toured Fort McMurray on Friday and announced that his government is going to expand extended Employment Insurance benefits to those in Edmonton, southern Saskatchewan and the southern interior of B.C.  However, he stressed that the decision was made based on “new data,” and not as a result of the wildfire.

Explaining the reason behind the expansion of benefits, Trudeau alleged that “obviously the fire is something that is tragic and if indeed offering more support to Edmonton and the areas around it will help people who have left Fort McMurray, then that’s a good thing.” He clarified that “we are a government focused on evidence-based policy” and “the fact is, the job numbers demonstrated (three additional regions) now qualify for that.”

Furthermore, the prime minister discussed his feelings when he had a helicopter tour over the fire-ravaged region. He revealed that “the first thing you notice is the smoke, the haze, the smell in the air,” and “then, as you fly over, initially you notice the blackened forest that surrounds Fort McMurray.” He narrated that “every section of the forest around it is scarred with black stripes or entire swathes of burned out trees. Then you notice a downtown core that, other than being oddly deserted and immobile, is largely untouched.” Trudeau continued that “then you notice neighbourhoods that stand with discarded children’s toys in the front yard that were vacated quickly but peacefully and (are) perfectly fine.” “Then you go a little further and you see devastation,” including “streets, blocks, houses, gone. Burned out with nothing but an empty hole where the foundations were.”

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