By Laura Beamish | fortmcmurraytoday.com

Just weeks away from the two-year insurance deadline for claims related to the May 2016 wildfires, Mayor Don Scott is feeling better after meeting with Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci after he was told the province could not extend the deadline for insurance companies.

In March, Scott sent a letter to Ceci, asking for insurance companies to extend the deadline. Last week, the province said they could not grant an extension as requested.

“We don’t have the ability to grant blanket exemptions with regard to folks who haven’t made claims,” said Ceci during a Wednesday visit to Fort McMurray. “What we can do and are doing is we’re insuring that the residents of Fort McMurray who need to have extensions have the support they need to request one.”

Ceci said that the government is working with the Insurance Bureau of Canada to make sure residents who need an extension are aware of their options.

“If a person is coming up against that two year timeline and they’re finding their insurance company is being somewhat slow or not supportive, they can contact the superintendent of insurance and the superintendent will get information both from the insurer and the insured and work to get that person an extension so that they can take the time they need to resolve their claim properly,” he said.

Scott said when he first heard the decision he was disappointed, but he was happy with how the meeting went, saying he understands that the government will try and help get the message out in other ways.

He said he is always worried there is someone out there that the message isn’t reaching and suggested that insurees be told directly about the deadline and their options, not simply relying on notices and messages on social media.

“I’m really asking the province to do a better job getting the message out,” said Scott. “We want him to understand the importance of that issue.”

Scott encourages to seek many options, including getting in touch with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, seeking legal advice, speaking with their own insurance company and speaking with the superintendent of insurance.

“It is critical that people talk and get advice,” said Scott.

The minister, mayor and councillors also discussed the importance of pipelines and their impact on the region, as well as key issues including homelessness and a potential ring road around Fort McMurray.

“It was a good, open, frank discussion,” said Ceci.

The superintendent of insurance can be contacted at 780-427-8322 or residents can get more information at finance.alberta.ca/insurance.

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