United Way Fort McMurray & Wood Buffalo Response

April 22, 2020

Wood Buffalo is a unique and resilient community with the reputation for being a world-class example of emergency response and recovery. With the 2016 wildfire still fresh in our minds, United Way Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo (UWFMWB) is positioned to support those who need it the most. We may be working at home, but it’s business as usual with our priority to ensure donations remain hard at work, supporting those in the community who find themselves struggling.

The COVID-19 virus is top of mind for all of us, especially for those most vulnerable, and for those who find themselves on reduced working hours. We also anticipate this pandemic to increase not only the usage of poverty-based programs such as food banks, we are also preparing for increased demand in family and mental health supports.

The health and safety of our community is our priority. We want to share the actions we’re taking to help protect our team, their families, and the number of supported programs serving the needs of people in our community – and what you can do to help.

Support to Fort McMurray & Wood Buffalo Social Profit Agencies

Our investment strategy remains intact as agencies continue to receive funding for their vital work.

United Way is working with our partner agencies to determine the best way to support the community’s changing priorities. We are helping by supporting greater flexibility, and are assessing resources required to expand current programming capacity.

One way we responded to the community’s changing needs is by giving our partner agencies resources to increase the capacity of social and mental health support networks to seniors in our community. More initiatives like this will be seen in Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo as this situation develops.

Coordinating with our Provincial and National Partners

UWFMWB is proud to work with United Way Centraide Canada (UWCC) and other national partners to ensure our community has the resources it needs. Local United Ways are working closely with both provincial and federal governments to provide resources and support to community agency partners, public health, and local emergency management.  

UWFMWB is currently partnered with United Way Alberta Capital Region in Edmonton to leverage the Government of Alberta’s Charitable Donation Matching program. We are also working closely with UWCC to take part in the federal government’s New Horizons for Seniors program. We continue to work with partner agencies to make use of all the tools provided by the government to position us for a strong recovery.

Working with our Partners in Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo

United Way is working hard alongside the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and industry partners to ensure immediate community needs are met as a result of the global pandemic. Through coordinated effort we’ve been able to help essential agencies stay open at this time to meet unforeseen needs.

We’re taking what worked well during Fire Recovery and applying it to COVID-19

Fort McMurray’s recovery after the 2016 forest fires became a Canada-wide example of the power of strong collaboration.  UWFMWB and the Wood Buffalo Community Foundation have strategically aligned to ensure donor funds have the most impact in the region. United Way is positioning itself to recreate the success of our fire response and provide that level of support in COVID-19 recovery. 

What can you do?

First, it is vital we take care of ourselves, family, neighbours, and colleagues. This is the time to prioritize mental and physical health as we’re all dealing with our own personal struggles – be it isolation, not being able to visit a loved one, or the loss of a job. Just like during the forest fire, we must all stand together to support one another. Being physically distant doesn’t mean we lose our social support network.

Second, our partner agencies rely on donations from people like you. We understand this is not the easiest time to be asking for donations, but if you are able to give, it would further strengthen our community as we all recover from this pandemic.

Please consider supporting our efforts by donating today. Your gift will make a significant difference in the lives of so many.

Andrea Hine
Interim Executive Director 
United Way Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo