The federal government is increasing Canada's contribution for tsunami relief to $425 million over five years -- more than five times the $80 million already promised.
"Today I am announcing that the government of Canada will extend its focus to include not only short-term humanitarian [aid], but also needs relating to the long-term reconstruction of areas affected by the tsunami disaster," annouced Prime Minister Paul Martin.
"This money comes in two envelopes," Martin explained:
$265 million in immediate, emergency aid; and
$160 million over five years for long-term reconstruction through CIDA (the Canadian International Development Agency).
The first figure includes the federal government's promise to match dollar-for-dollar the contributions that individual Canadians make to various charities until Jan 11.
"It is our estimate that by the end of [Tuesday], the people of Canada will have privately contributed $150 million to agencies working in south and southeast Asia," Martin said. "In a time of crisis and disaster, the response of Canadians has been truly extraordinary."
Charities have rarely seen such an outpouring by Canadians.
The founder of Music World, Kroum Pindoff and his wife Eva donated $5 million to the Red Cross, "because so much suffering is in this world and we live in plenty," he said.
The federal government has set a deadline of Tues. at midnight for private donors to match charitable donations, so funding drives are on overdrive.
The $265-million figure also includes:
Canada's decision to cancel debt payments for tsunami-affected countries;
the costs of sending DART (the Canadian Forces' Disaster Assistance Relief Team) to Sri Lanka to help with the relief efforts there; and
sending RCMP forensics experts and health officials to Thailand to help identify victims.
"Make no mistake," Martin said. "Canada is avidly committed to staying the course in the region where we are today and we will be there tomorrow. We'll be there as long as it takes."
Meanwhile, some members of DART have reached their destination of Ampara, Sri Lanka -- one of the hardest hit areas.