Minister Cannon Reminds Canadians That Proper Preparation is Key to a Successful Spring Break

(No. 70 – February 17, 2010 – 10 a.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today urged Canadians preparing to travel abroad during spring break to visit Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada's Consular Services website for advice on planning a safe trip. The Minister pointed out that last year, between January and April 2009, Consular Services handled more than 2,160 cases of Canadians in distress abroad.

"As many Canadian families and students prepare to travel abroad for spring break, they should find out about the new tools we have provided to help them get the information they need before they go," said Minister Cannon. "Canadians can now subscribe to our new RSS feeds to receive updates on their destinations. They can also use the new social media links on the site to pass information along to family and friends who are planning to travel.

"The key to a successful trip is proper preparation. I therefore urge Canadians to consult the Travel Reports & Warnings we offer for over 200 countries. Travellers can use these reports to plan a safe trip. The travel reports contain current information on safety and security, health precautions, entry requirements, laws and customs, and other travel-related issues, as well as emergency contact information. In 2009, there were over 2,300 updates to the travel reports."

Some travel reports include an official warning advising Canadians to avoid a particular country or a specific area in the country where the situation poses a security risk. Travellers should know this information, since insurance companies consult our travel reports when assessing claims.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada also provides practical tools for families as well as for children travelling alone or with one parent, such as a sample consent letter.

"The recent earthquake in Haiti reminds us that even with the best preparation, unforeseen events can occur," said the Minister. "As a precautionary measure, the department provides a free and confidential registration service for Canadians abroad. Representatives of the department use this service to contact and assist Canadians in the event of an emergency abroad. In 2009, more than 100,000 Canadians registered with this service. For more information, visit Registration of Canadians Abroad."

Canadians who require assistance while abroad may contact the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate. They can also contact the department's Emergency Operations Centre by calling 1-800-387-3124 or, for those in Ottawa, 613-943-1055. They may also send an email to sos@international.gc.ca. The Centre is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by trained, knowledgeable and resourceful officers.

Canadians should be aware of the services department representatives provide as well as the service limitations. For example, the department cannot intervene in private legal matters.

For more information on the consular services provided in 2008, consult Consular Activity in 2008 - Incident Report for Canadians Abroad.

Consular information is also available at 1-800-267-6788 (from within Canada) or 613-944-6788 (from outside Canada).

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Catherine Loubier
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874