Premier Urges All Ontarians To Give To Tsunami Relief
Province Sending Supplies, Experts, Medical Team, But What Asia Needs Most Now Is Donations
QUEEN'S PARK -- Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is urging all Ontarians to contribute to the relief effort in South Asia.
"We are citizens of the world, we hail from every part of it and we're connected to every corner of it," Premier McGuinty said.
"The world has been dealt a tremendous blow, so Ontario is responding, and we will continue to respond, because that's what Ontarians do when our fellow citizens need help."
To make it easier for Ontarians to donate, Premier McGuinty has asked the LCBO, the Beer Store and the Wine Council of Ontario to enable Ontarians to give at all of their outlets.
Thanks to their positive response, donation boxes for tsunami disaster relief will be displayed at checkouts, starting tomorrow and until January 31, 2005.
Premier McGuinty also announced that he has appointed a long-term, blue-ribbon committee of leading Ontarians, co-chaired by Hilary Weston and Peter Godsoe, to ensure Ontario raises funds to facilitate rebuilding and reconstruction.
"I have every confidence they will give this their all, just as I am confident that Ontarians will continue to give," Premier McGuinty said.
"We are sending equipment and expertise, but we've been in constant contact with aid agencies and consulates and they tell us what is needed most now is cash. That's the best way to get food and shelter, relief and hope to the people there."
Premier McGuinty provided the media with an update on the Province's role in relief efforts:
A $5 million donation, made on behalf of the people of Ontario, has now been delivered to the Red Cross.
Ontario has offered the federal government the deployment of the province's Emergency Medical Assistance Team -- volunteer health care professionals trained to provide sophisticated primary care in emergency situations -- with an advance team hoping to leave for Asia this week.
Twelve skids of medical equipment were delivered yesterday to a UNICEF plane scheduled to leave today.
Dr. Marie Bountrogianni, the Minister of Children and Youth Services, is assessing the province's adoption procedures to facilitate placement of orphaned Asian children with their extended families living in Ontario.
Dr. James Young, Ontario's Commissioner of Emergency Management, and Ontario's Chief Coroner, Dr. Barry McLellan, have been working alongside international experts, doing the difficult job of identifying victims.
Ontario is compiling a critical resource roster -- people with special expertise and needed equipment -- from the provincial government, the broader public sector, Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation and the private sector.
Provincial officials have met municipal counterparts to share information and work on an inventory of available resources for reconstruction efforts.
Supports are being extended to any provincial government employees affected the by the tragedy.
The Ontario Public Service is being mobilized to coordinate volunteer activities to support the relief effort.
A special ceremony will be held at Queen's Park at noon on Saturday as part of a national day of mourning.
Books of condolence will be available to the public at the legislature soon, and at Ontario Government Information Centres across the province as of Monday, in keeping with the initiative launched by the Hon. James K. Bartleman, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.
Flags are flying at half-mast at Ontario government buildings, schools and hospitals.
"Seldom have so many lost so much so suddenly," said Premier McGuinty.