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April 14, 2009 (7:50 a.m. EDT)
No. 99

Minister Day Unveils Canadian Housing Assistance for Survivors of Sichuan Earthquake

The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today unveiled Canadian reconstruction plans for a new senior citizens’ residence to house survivors of the Sichuan earthquake, which killed more than 70,000 Chinese people nearly a year ago.

“Canada is proud to support Beichuan County’s reconstruction efforts,” said Minister Day. “Canadians showed their compassion last spring when they gave generously to help strangers living almost half a world away.”

Canada is the second-largest foreign donor to the Sichuan earthquake relief effort, with individuals, groups and governments contributing about $75 million to reconstruction efforts.

“Today, I had the honour of unveiling construction plans for the new Leigu Town Elderly Care Centre in Beichuan County,” said Minister Day. Before it was levelled by the earthquake, the centre housed 75 people. With Canada’s help, the new facility will be completed within the coming year.”

The earthquake killed several thousand residents of this county in southwest China and destroyed millions of homes. Hardest hit was the town of Beichuan; the Chinese government has designated it a permanent memorial of the earthquake.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, Canada created the Sichuan Earthquake Relief Fund. The fund provided emergency relief items such as tents, hygiene kits and food parcels for immediate needs. Canada also supplied educational programming for more than 80,000 children, constructed temporary housing for 3,000 families and trained community health workers.

Last year, the governments of Canada and British Columbia announced $8 million for reconstruction projects using high-quality Canadian wood. Canadian industry is also providing technical support and expertise for the projects. Canada’s world-class wood frame technology is especially suitable for this region because of its seismic stability.

Minister Day is the first foreign minister to visit the earthquake memorial. He laid a wreath and observed a moment of silence to commemorate the victims. He also met with children and seniors who survived the disaster, and received an extensive tour of earthquake sites, including UNICEF recovery projects funded by the Sichuan Earthquake Relief Fund.

“I expressed Canada’s deepest sympathy to China and the people of Beichuan County, who faced tragedy just one year ago,” said Minister Day. “I was also touched by the courage and perseverance of Beichuan survivors, including the people I met today. They continue to make enormous strides in rebuilding their community.”

For further information, consult the following website:Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada - International Trade: Minister Day visits Japan and China

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For further information, and high-resolution pictures of Minister Day’s visit to Japan and China, media representatives may contact:

Mélisa Leclerc
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada