Minister Cannon Reminds Canadians to Plan Ahead for Safe Holiday Travel

(No. 397 - December 15, 2010 - 2:45 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today reminded Canadians of the importance of careful planning for safe travel.

“During this holiday season, I would like to remind the many Canadians travelling abroad to plan ahead for a safe and healthy trip,” said Minister Cannon. “I invite Canadians to inform themselves by using the tools developed by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada to help them stay safe when travelling abroad.

“Our Essential information for Canadians abroad website provides comprehensive advice for a safe trip, including Holiday travel tips, Important contact information and Country insights. Our Travel reports and warnings include information on safety and security, local laws, health conditions and other important travel issues.

“Unfortunately, you can never predict when you might need support and assistance. We encourage Canadians to make use of our Registration of Canadians abroad service, which the department uses to contact and assist Canadians during emergencies in foreign countries.”

When Canadians do run into a problem abroad, whether a lost or stolen passport or something more serious, the nearest Canadian office and the department’s Emergency Operations Centre can help. The offices and the Centre, which can be reached at 613-996-8885 and accepts collect calls, stand ready to assist Canadians 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

“Our government has expanded services to meet the growing needs of Canadian travellers,” said Minister Cannon. “We are working to ensure that our network of missions abroad has the right people in the right places to help Canadians wherever they may find themselves. To better support our officers in the field, we are revamping our Emergency Operations Centre, which handled more than 114,000 calls this year, and we have recently opened more Canadian government offices abroad, chiefly in popular destinations, such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic.”

While most Canadians travelling or living overseas remained healthy and safe, last year Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada provided consular services in some 198,000 cases handled by more than 260 offices in 150 countries. For more information on consular services provided in 2009, please consult Statistics on Canadians abroad.

Canadians should remember that limitations on consular services exist. They should also remember that in foreign countries they fall under the jurisdiction of that country’s government and legal system, both of which may be very different from Canada’s. Canadian officials must seek the cooperation of officials in the host country. Local authorities will always be the first responders and in charge of any situation. Canadian consular officers depend on local authorities for information to provide assistance to Canadians.

Canadian officials provide assistance to Canadians only with their consent and with respect for their privacy. This applies, as well, to families and friends seeking information in times of crisis.

Safe and secure travel is primarily the responsibility of travellers. However, when travellers find themselves in situations beyond their control, they can make it easier for Canadian officials to help them by consulting the web pages above, registering before leaving and ensuring they have the information they need.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Melissa Lantsman
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
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