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EDMONTON - The Alberta government says it will match public donations up to a total of $500,000 to aid victims of the recent catastrophic typhoon in the Philippines.
Deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk said it was imperative to step up and help the Asian archipelago, which has more than 100,000 of its people living and working in Alberta.
"Many families and relatives of those victims are here among us in Alberta, as our neighbours (and) as our families," said Lukaszuk, who held a legislature news conference Monday with representatives of the local Filipino community behind him.
He said the province will use gaming revenues to match money donated to the Red Cross.
"These monies will provide some of the badly needed assistance that is now required in the Philippines."
The announcement came just hours after the NDP said it would seek an emergency debate in the legislature on why Premier Alison Redford had not joined the federal government and other provinces to deliver aid.
Lukaszuk said the announcement had been in the works for days and was not timed to the NDP's criticism.
New Democrat Leader Brian Mason said the $500,000 is "a little small" compared with up to $5 million the province has delivered to victims of other international disasters.
"Considering the size of the Filipino community and their concern, their fears for their loved ones back in the Philippines, I think the government could afford to be more generous than this," said Mason.
"But nevertheless it is the first statement we've seen from this government that they're acknowledging the severity of the disaster and taking some responsibility to contribute towards (alleviating) it.
"I'm pleased about that."
The federal government is also matching donations dollar for dollar. On Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the total federal contribution currently sits at $20 million.
Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on Nov. 8. About 4,000 people are so far known to have died and another 1,600 are missing. About four million people have no food, water and shelter.
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