Canadian Red Cross still has $200M of the $360M?donated by Canadians

«It is somewhat startling ... that a good amount of that money has not been deployed for its intentions ...»


More than three years after the Asian tsunami devastated several countries, $200 million of the $360 million donated to the Canadian Red Cross has still not been spent.

After the tsunami slammed into 11 countries, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand, on Dec. 26, 2004, killing more than 225,000, Canadians opened up their hearts and wallets.

When the Canadian Red Cross appealed for money, individuals, corporations and the federal government couldn’t send cheques fast enough. Most of it came within the first month after the devastation.

When all was tallied, $360 million had been collected and the agency insists the remaining $200 million has been allocated in its quest to build 6,000 homes. The Canadian Red Cross kept the fundraising campaign up for another year, while at least one other charity had long ago stopped.

"It is somewhat startling ... that a good amount of that money has not been deployed for its intentions when Canadians in a mood of outpouring gave money in almost an unprecedented way," said Liberal MP Dan McTeague (Pickering-Scarborough East), who was parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew when the tsunami struck.

"The public must have a reasonable expectation that monies that they contribute are, in fact, spent as they are indicated to be spent. One can understand timelines, but this tsunami took place over three years ago."

The Red Cross in Canada took in far more money than it ever imagined. Some say it was a combination of the time of year and the size of the catastrophe that put people in a giving mood. In all, the worldwide community donated a reported $7 billion in humanitarian aid.

Critics say the Canadian Red Cross spends its money slowly because it’s a large bureaucracy.

"Anybody trying to spend $360 million would have troubles with capability. They didn’t have to take in the money. They could have said, ‘I’m sorry, we’ve got enough,’ but they didn’t," said the industry source, adding Doctors Without Borders did exactly that.

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