FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - Waiving fees to replace passports and other documents lost in last year's Fort McMurray wildfire cost Ottawa almost $130,000 in forgone revenue.
The May 2016 disaster displaced more than 80,000 people in the northern Alberta city for at least a month as flames consumed one-tenth of its buildings.
"At that time, it was deemed in the public interest to assist in providing a quick return to normalcy for individuals whose lives were affected, many of whom were in crisis situations for long periods of time," says a note accompanying a remission order posted on the federal government's website this week.
"They experienced loss of income, employment, unanticipated out-of-pocket expenses and interim costs pending insurance and provincial assistance. Replacement costs for the documents would have imposed an additional burden."
The note says 626 passports, 48 permanent resident cards and 32 citizenship certificates were replaced free of charge because they were lost, damaged or destroyed.
Anyone in Fort McMurray who applied for a replacement passport between May 3 and Sept. 6 of last year and submitted supporting documentation did not have to pay. For permanent resident cards and citizenship certificates, the deadline was Aug. 3.
New five-year passports cost $120, 10-year passports are $160 and children's passports are $57.
There is a $45 charge on top of the passport fee to replace one that has been lost or stolen.
New permanent resident cards are $50 and citizenship certificates are $75.
Additional fees for urgent and express service were also waived during the fire.
In total, the government estimates forgone revenue of $129,340.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has so far not announced similar measures for people affected by wildfires raging right now in the British Columbia Interior.
"With our partners, IRCC is closely monitoring the situation in British Columbia and assessing what specific measures would best address the needs of Canadian citizens, permanent residents and temporary residents in the region," it said in a statement.
Any special measures would be announced on the department's website, as well as a government website dedicated to the B.C. wildfires.
The order notes that the government also waived fees for new documents in 2013 following floods in southern Alberta and after a train derailment and explosion in Lac Megantic, Que.
"Both these catastrophic incidents resulted in mass displacements and evacuations, and people often had to flee quickly without key identification documents, or risk further harm," the document says.
"Such action assists individuals by not making them pay to replace documents lost, damaged, destroyed or rendered inaccessible because of events outside their control."