Statement by Minister Paradis: Technical Briefing on Typhoon Haiyan

Good morning.

The last two days have been very difficult. They have also been incredibly busy and productive.  

The magnitude of the destruction across many regions of the Philippines is nearly impossible to comprehend.

Millions of people are in mourning for their families and friends.

Eighty to ninety percent of the buildings I have seen are severely damaged, if not completely destroyed.

It's very hard to take in, but international humanitarian assistance is making a significant difference.

Yesterday, I met with local government and United Nations officials responding to the crisis.

We discussed the humanitarian situation and what Canada is doing to help.

Our Government is supporting the relief effort but individual Canadians have been especially generous in their support as well.

The humanitarian actors on the ground have been under incredible pressure since the typhoon hit, but they have made remarkable progress in a very short time.

The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, said that the situation in Tacloban, for example, is night and day compared to her first visit a week ago.

This is very encouraging.

But much work remains to be done to meet people’s immediate needs.

Yesterday afternoon, I joined members of Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team or DART to visit parts of Capiz and Iloilo provinces, two hard-hit areas.

They are playing a vital role in our efforts, by providing much-needed water, sanitation and logistics.

Today, I had the opportunity to visit the Canadian Red Cross field hospital in the hard-hit City of Ormoc, which is on the west coast of the island of Leyte.

It's set up directly in front of the local district hospital, which was reduced to 20 percent operating capacity after the typhoon destroyed its roof and caused flooding.

The coordination between the field hospital's international medical team, local hospital staff and other emergency health providers is nothing short of amazing.

They are literally working around the clock, performing surgeries, and administering medicine and vaccines, and a wide variety of other important medical services. 

But more support is needed.

That is why in response to a World Health Organization (WHO) request, the Public Health Agency of Canada is deploying an epidemiologist who will join a team of public health professionals to identify and make recommendations on how to mitigate the risks to public health, such as infectious diseases, in the wake of this disaster.

I also have good news regarding our consular operation.

It is officially winding down, with almost all 216 Canadians in the affected areas now accounted for.

Over the past three weeks, teams made up of consular and immigration officers have been reaching out to the hardest hit areas, including Tacloban, Ormoc City, and Roxas.

They were able to contact Canadian citizens, confirm their well-being and reassure their loved ones back in Canada.

They were also able to contact immigration and visa applicants requiring expedited processing of their applications.

I want to thank all those who supported that effort.

Canadian consular specialists from across Asia and from Ottawa were deployed to Manila, and worked in sometimes difficult conditions to ensure that Canadians were safe.

We are also grateful for the assistance provided by our American and Australian friends and colleagues.

This evening, I met with the Philippine Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Albert del Rosario.

He shared his overwhelming  gratitude to Canada and Canadians for our assistance.

He also reiterated the important impact Canada’s contributions are making to relief efforts.

I couldn't agree more. 

That is why I am pleased to announce that our Government is extending the deadline the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund to December 23rd.

As we approach Christmas, I encourage Canadians to keep donating to registered Canadian charities.

And our Government will match eligible donations dollar-for-dollar right up to the 23rd of December.

I have rarely been more proud to be Canadian than I have been on this trip.

Witnessing the compassion and dedication shown by Canadian volunteers, who have travelled here from across the country to help those in desperate need is incredibly moving.

I am proud of Canada's response to this crisis and our government will continue to be there for Filipinos, both here and at home.

I now welcome your questions.