Minister Cannon, Minister Kenney and Minister Oda Mark Six Months Since Haiti Earthquake

(No. 219 - July 12, 2010 - 12:30 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, today reiterated Canada’s unwavering commitment to Haiti’s long-term reconstruction and reaffirmed the country’s solidarity with the Haitian people, six months after the January 12 earthquake.

“Today, as Haiti struggles to rebuild in the face of overwhelming challenges, Canada remains committed to our neighbour and friend,” said Minister Cannon. “Rebuilding Haiti—and meeting its economic, social, justice and security needs—is a momentous task that will take sustained and long-term effort. Our long-standing commitment, as well as our experience and expertise, have positioned Canada to assume a leadership role in assistance and reconstruction efforts in Haiti.

“Canada is particularly involved in ensuring Haitian institutions have the skills and tools to make Haiti a more secure place for its people.”

“Six months after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Canadians can be proud of the Canadian contribution in the aftermath of the disaster,” said Minister Oda. “In response to the immense destruction and the resulting humanitarian crisis, the Canadian International Development Agency has allocated over $150 million to date in support of humanitarian assistance and initial reconstruction efforts.”

“The Government of Canada has been working hard over the past six months to reunite families affected by this disaster as quickly as possible,” said Minister Kenney. “I am proud to announce today that Citizenship and Immigration Canada has contacted every applicant we had in our system before the earthquake, and has completed over 90 percent of the immigration applications received before April 1. We continue to fast-track applications we’ve received since then.”

“We have made important progress in a very difficult and challenging context,” added Minister Cannon. “We will continue to work closely with the Government of Haiti and the international community in the strengthening of key institutions toward ensuring the country’s long-term stability, security and prosperity.”

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Melissa Lantsman
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Jessica Fletcher
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
819-953-6238

Celyeste Power
Press Secretary
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
613-954-1064

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

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency
819-953-6534

Media Relations Unit
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
CIC-Media-Relations@cic.gc.ca
613-952-1650

Backgrounder – Haiti – Six Months after the Earthquake

On January 12, 2010, a catastrophic earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck Haiti, close to the capital, Port-au-Prince. That quake caused widespread devastation and loss of life. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians and foreign nationals died or were injured in the quake’s aftermath, including 58 Canadians who lost their lives. The Government of Canada mounted rapid and comprehensive humanitarian and consular efforts, involving multiple federal government departments and agencies.

Canadian Forces provided urgently needed aid to Haitians

Following the earthquake, the Canadian Forces (CF) dispatched approximately 2,000 personnel from the Army, Navy and Air Force to provide medical care and humanitarian assistance, such as food and water delivery, security, engineering services, as well as search and rescue support. At the same time, CF ferried needed supplies and equipment via air and heavy cargo lift from Canada. CF personnel provided nearly 1.5 million meals, 2.6 million litres of potable water and medical care for more than 22,000 people in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Comprehensive humanitarian, consular and evacuation efforts

Following the earthquake, the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START) coordinated the Government of Canada’s comprehensive humanitarian response, and provided experts to assess how to build better policing, courts and corrections in the quake’s aftermath. START’s Global Peace and Security Fund (GPSF) increased its annual contribution from $15 to $25 million for 2010-2011.

Canada is supporting the provision of legal assistance to the victims of the earthquake, the training of Haitian lawyers in serving earthquake survivor needs, and the training of local mediators through a project implemented by Avocats sans frontières Canada.

Canada acted swiftly to evacuate over 4,600 people from Haiti. In cooperation with provincial governments, Public Safety Canada assisted with the reception and onward transit of repatriated Canadians who arrived at Canadian airports.

Public Safety Canada provided domestic coordination through the Government Operations Centre and used its network of provincial counterparts and first responders to ensure a coordinated effort in support of Canada's response to the earthquake.

Canada’s political and diplomatic response

Canada has mounted political and diplomatic efforts in response to the crisis. In order to facilitate international coordination, Canada organized and hosted the Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Haiti on January 25 in Montréal, only two weeks after the earthquake. This meeting, chaired by Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, rallied key partners engaged in the international effort in Haiti around a clear and common vision for the early recovery and longer-term reconstruction of Haiti.

Canada then co-chaired the International Donors’ Conference toward a New Future for Haiti, held in New York on March 31, during which Canada announced new contributions of $400 million over the next two years to the development and reconstruction of Haiti. The Conference also agreed on two international coordination mechanisms: the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission and the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, which will ensure that reconstruction projects align with the government of Haiti’s priorities and plans, and that management of international contributions to Haiti’s recovery and development are transparent and responsible. Canada is actively involved in supporting the implementation of these two mechanisms.

Several official visits made by the Government of Canada’s high-level representatives since the earthquake, including Governor General Michaëlle Jean, Prime Minister Harper and ministers Cannon, MacKay and Oda, contributed to maintaining a frank and solid political dialogue with the Haitian authorities as well as expressing our solidarity with the people of Haiti.

Supporting humanitarian assistance and initial reconstruction efforts

To date, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has allocated over $150.15 million in support of humanitarian assistance and initial reconstruction efforts.

The $400 million that Canada pledged in New York includes a contribution to the multi-donor Haiti Reconstruction Fund, and support for the work of Canadian and international humanitarian and development organizations, including the private sector, in their recovery and reconstruction efforts in Haiti. It also includes support to Haiti by several government departments including CIDA, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, the RCMP and the Department of Finance Canada. This is in addition to Canada’s planned, ongoing $555 million engagement in Haiti for 2006-2011.

This support from the Government of Canada is in addition to the generosity of Canadians, who overwhelmingly demonstrated their compassion for the Haitian people. Over the period of one month, individual Canadians donated more than $220 million to qualified Canadian organizations, an amount that the federal government is matching. This will bring the Canadian government’s total support to Haiti to $1.096 billion from 2006 to 2012, making it the leading beneficiary of Canada’s aid and development assistance in the Americas.

Canadian police and corrections officers assisting with security system reform

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, Canadian police provided humanitarian relief, assisted with first aid and provided security in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and outlying regions. The RCMP also participated in the Interpol-led Disaster Victim Identification mission to facilitate the identification and repatriation of victims believed to be Canadian. Canadian civilian police continue to provide security and are also assisting with training and mentoring of the Haitian National Police.

Correctional Service of Canada staff deployed with the UN mission in Haiti supported the crisis management of the corrections unit in Port-au-Prince, Les Cayes and Cap Haïtien, while continuing to assist in re-establishing and strengthening the Haitian corrections system.

Since February 2010, Canada has been gradually increasing the number of Canadian police officers, provincial and municipal police experts deployed to Haiti from 85 to 150. GPSF is also launching training for all Haitian police officers in first aid and emergency response. Canada is providing 100 patrol vehicles and fleet maintenance support to the Haitian National Police to ensure they are able to arrest criminals and respond to emergencies. In addition, Canada is expanding police training facilities by supplying portable classrooms for the national Police School, which increases the capacity to train new officers, including corrections personnel to staff the Canadian-financed Croix-des-Bouquets facility to be opened later this year.

Haiti is the Public Safety portfolio’s largest international effort in terms of the number of personnel abroad. There are currently 131 Canadian civilian police officers and 4 corrections officers deployed to Haiti as part of the UN mission.

Further to a request from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, a senior RCMP official was deployed on February 19, 2010, as the new UN Police Deputy Commissioner for Operations.

New projects aim to offer the training, equipment, and infrastructure necessary to ensure that the police fulfill their mandate, including: training new recruits; enforcing security along borders and within communities; reforming the prison system; and facilitating access to justice for victims of the disaster. START has also added a disaster risk reduction component to its strategy for Haiti, which includes applying international antiseismic standards to buildings it finances.

Special immigration measures

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) helped Canadian parents who were in the process of adopting a child from Haiti get their children to Canada. Operation Stork resulted in the successful union of 203 Haitian children with families in Canada. This was a monumental task—in just a month and a half, the Government of Canada, the provinces and the territories processed as many adoption cases from Haiti as are normally done in two years.

CIC is making it a priority to reunite families under a Haiti Special Measures Program. Decisions have been made on over 90 percent of the cases received before April 1, including those received before the earthquake struck. That means that, altogether, 2,355 Haitians are currently in Canada, or have had their applications approved, refused or withdrawn.

This is more than five times the number of applications the department processed over the same time frame in 2009 for the same categories covered under the special measures.

In cases where decisions have not been made, it is usually because CIC is waiting for medical or DNA testing results.

CIC continues to receive applications under the Haiti special measures, and is committed to making decisions on applications within 12 weeks of the end of the month applications are received.

Canada honours its commitment to help eliminate Haiti’s multilateral debt

On June 25, 2010, Canada paid off its share of Haiti’s debt to the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Canada was the first country to make all of the payments required to cancel the debt Haiti owes to all international financial institutions. Forgiving debt owed by Haiti has been a critical part of Canada’s global response to Haiti’s earthquake, along with significant humanitarian and reconstruction assistance.

At their meetings in Washington in April and in Busan in June, G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors committed to work with international financial institutions to eliminate Haiti’s multilateral debt.

For more information, including advice on how to help those affected by the disaster, please visit Canada’s response to the earthquake in Haiti.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Melissa Lantsman
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

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

Department of National Defence Media Liaison Office
National Defence Headquarters
1-866-377-0811 / 613-996-2353

Jessica Fletcher
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
819-953-6238

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
819-953-6534
media@acdi-cida.gc.ca

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada
613-991-0657

Celyeste Power
Press Secretary
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
613-954-1064

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
613-952-1650
CIC-Media-Relations@cic.gc.ca