05/11/2016 02:44 EDT | Updated 05/12/2017 05:12 EDT

Fort McMurray Fire: Federal Liberals Strike Special Cabinet Committee On Disaster Assistance

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have struck a cabinet committee involving nine different ministries to handle the aftermath of the Fort McMurray wildfire.

Kent Hehr, the Calgary MP who serves as Veterans Affairs minister and associate minister of defence, will chair the committee, which includes ministers responsible for public safety, health, natural resources, infrastructure, labour and employment insurance, among others.

kent hehr

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr speaks in question period on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

The Red Cross announced today that it would begin distributing $50-million in donations directly to evacuees from the oilands hub in northern Alberta as emergency funding.

But the longer term reconstruction of the city will require deeper pockets and multiple levels of government.

Trudeau to visit Friday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to visit Fort McMurray on Friday and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she's already planning to urge the federal government to extend enhanced employment insurance benefits to Edmonton as a result of the wildfire fall-out.

Edmonton-area MP Rona Ambrose, the interim Conservative leader, offered rare praise for the government's cabinet committee move, calling it a very smart way to speed up decision-making.


Fort McMurray Firefighters Battle Blaze (May 2016)