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Stimulus package emerges for scorched parts of Canada

May wildfires added insult to injury for an economy already pressured by low oil prices.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Stimulus package emerges for scorched parts of Canada
Canada still working to pick up the pieces from May wildfires, offering a stimulus to help small businesses recover. Photo by MCpl VanPutten/Canadian Armed Forces/UPI | License Photo

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Still recovering from wildfires that caused mass evacuations, the provincial government in Alberta said it was introducing a stimulus package for businesses.

"The government of Canada remains fully committed to supporting the local business community of Fort McMurray," Canadian Minister for Economic Development Navdeep Bains said in a statement. "This program is a prime example of how we are continuing to work alongside our partners to ensure small- and medium-sized businesses have access to the resources they need during this period of recovery and rebuilding."

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The nation's economy is already under pressure from lower crude oil prices, which resulted in a 3.7 percent contraction for the oil-rich province of Alberta. The economy could show further damage because of wildfires that raged through parts of Alberta in May. Blazes that devastated parts of Fort McMurray idled about 1 million barrels per day worth of regional oil production.

The government estimates about 4,000 small businesses were impacted by the wildfires in an area that contributes about $70 billion to national gross domestic product.

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The provincial government said it was extending around $65 million to help the municipality recover from wildfires that scorched the region for most of May. Through a multilateral effort that includes support from the Canadian Red Cross, new funding will cover up to $15,200 in costs for cleanup and new equipment. The regional administration said it was allocating additional funding at an undisclosed amount to help cover wages.

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"This funding will allow the municipality to address head-on our business owners' needs and help our community continue to move forward rebuilding together," Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake said.

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