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Canada and Haiti officially established autonomous diplomatic relations in 1954 and have continued to maintain strong diplomatic ties ever since. Over the years, their relations have been strengthened by their geographical proximity, a common language (French) the growth of a substantial Haitian community in Canada (165,000) and the ongoing presence of Canadian development organizations in Haiti. In addition to its embassy in Ottawa, the Republic of Haiti also has a consulate general in Montreal, as well as an honorary consulate in Toronto. The Haitian Ambassador to Canada, Wien Weibert Arthus, presented his credence to the Governor General of Canada on November 30, 2020.
Both members of the United Nations (UN), Canada has supported the various UN peace missions in Haiti for over 20 years to support stabilization and reconstruction efforts, both financially and through the deployment of Canadian Armed Forces, UN Police (UNPOLs) and correctional officers. Canada chairs the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group (ECOSOC-AHAG) on Haiti. Canada also consolidates its relationship with Haiti by being a member of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF).
In September 2022, on the margins of the UN General Assembly, Canada hosted a meeting with Caribbean and regional partners to discuss how the international community can collaborate to support Haiti’s stability and sustainable development. In October 2022, on the margins of the General Assembly of the OAS, Canada co-chaired, along with the United States and Haiti, a meeting to continue the discussion started the month before. In November 2022, on the margins of the Francophonie, Canada hosted a meeting on Haiti with Francophonie member states and governments to continue mobilize action and developing an international response to support Haitian authorities in their efforts to restore law and order, fight corruption and improve access to justice and support for victims of gender-based violence. In December 2022, Canada sent a diplomatic mission to Haiti with a view to promoting dialogue between Haitian key stakeholders.
The bilateral trade relationship between Canada and Haiti remains modest. In 2021, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Haiti was valued at $159 million CAD, an increase of 11% compared to 2021. Haitian exports are mainly found in the agri-food and textiles sectors ($15.4 and 43.3 million respectively) while Canadian exports can be found mainly in the agri-food and Transportation/Armored vehicles sectors (57.6 million and 6.8 million respectively). Bilateral trade in services is still modest (official statistics not available).
On the trade front, commercial opportunities are real and open, especially for seasoned Canadian companies. The country’s heavy dependence on imports (approximately USD 5.2 billion in 2021) offers interesting outlets for Canadian products. The country’s shortfall in terms of access to electricity is significant and renewable energies are underused. Lack of expertise in many sectors is driving a high demand for services.
Since the 2010 earthquake, the Government of Canada has provided $1.87 billion worth of funding to Haiti. Canada is the second-largest bilateral donor to Haiti after the United States. In 2022-2023, Canada has provided so far an annual development assistance budget of over $98 million in Haiti (all funding mechanisms combined), making Haiti the largest recipient of Canadian aid in the Americas.
The Government of Canada’s bilateral development priorities are consistent with the action areas in Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. Canada’s international assistance is focused on empowering women and girls and addressing gender inequality, and insecurity, promoting good governance and economic growth, addressing acute food insecurity and climate change, and improving access to essential education and health services.
Faced with the multiple crises in Haiti in recent years, Canada has demonstrated flexibility in the way it delivers its development assistance, which has made it possible to respond to the most urgent needs. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led Canada to adjust its programming and reallocate $12.60 million to deal with the health crisis in Haiti, in addition to allocating $10 million aimed at strengthening the food resilience of populations made more vulnerable due to the impact of COVID-19.
Following the earthquake of August 14, 2021, Canada worked closely with the Government of Haiti and international partners to assess needs and provide assistance. Canada has provided a contribution of $20 million to support reconstruction efforts following the August 2021 earthquake.
Some development projects were also altered to provide food relief, first aid and assistance to agricultural producers whose crops had been damaged. Canada also participated in the “International Event for the Financing of the Reconstruction of the Southern Peninsula of Haiti” in February 2022, announcing a new financial commitment of $19.5 million, to support earthquake victims, post-disaster rehabilitation as well as to improving security and integrated health services for women, adolescent girls and children. On the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2022, Canada announced an additional contribution of $20 million to support earthquake reconstruction efforts.
Canada is deeply concerned about the security and humanitarian crisis made worse by the increasing grip of gangs in Haiti. Canada is therefore continuing its long-term support to the security sector, including strengthening the Police nationale d’Haïti (PNH) (Haitian National Police). Canada recently funded a project to support the professionalization of the HNP that led to the establishment of the Académie nationale de police (National Police Academy) and the training of more than 480 commissioners and inspectors, particularly in police ethics, protection of human rights and the fight against gender-based violence.
This year, Canada has worked closely with UN Development Program (UNDP) to establish a multi-donor Basket Fund on security in Haiti. The Basket Fund was created to improve and rapidly increase the HNP’s capacity to address insecurity, enforce the law, and address persistent institutional weaknesses. It focuses on “high impact” interventions that address the current situation in Haiti, while taking into account long-term capacity building. Canada initiated the establishment of this fund by giving the first contribution of CAD$10 million to the Basket Fund. Since then, 7 other donors have joined Canada, and have contributed over US$19M to the fund target of US$28M.
Through its Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs), Global Affairs Canada (GAC) also funds projects focused on reducing community violence, strengthening the rule of law, and including women in policing and political life. Due to PSOPs programming, Canada has facilitated the formation of a Haitian national border force since 2017, POLIFRONT, which is deployed along the terrestrial border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
To date in 2022, Canada has provided over $12.5M in humanitarian assistance to support the delivery of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable crisis-affected people in Haiti. This includes $8 million announced by the Prime Minister on November 20, 2022, to help address emerging humanitarian needs. .
To find out what Canada is doing to support development in Haiti, you can search in the Project Browser.
To strengthen the security sector in developing countries, Canada often deploys both police officers and civilians. Canadian police officers are deployed through the Canadian Civilian Police Arrangement, whose partners comprise GAC, Public Safety Canada and the RCMP. Civilians are deployed through GAC’s Civilian Deployments Platform. Since the end of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti, in October 2019, to which more than 20 Canadians were deployed, Canada has been deploying police officers to the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti.
Canada is also contributing to stability and security through diplomatic dialogue with its Haitian and international partners and through its development assistance programming.
In order to maintain the attention of the international community on political dialogue and security in Haiti, Canada chaired an international Ministerial Meeting with 27 representatives of countries, regional and international organizations, and the Prime Minister of Haiti, in January 2021. Reiterating its support for Haiti, Canada announced a financial commitment of $50.4 million for 9 initiatives focused on security, sexual and reproductive health and rights, inclusive economic growth and humanitarian aid.
Partnerships and organizations
To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and Haiti work closely in multilateral fora, such as:
- La Francophonie
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- Organization of American States (OAS)
- The Pacific Alliance
- United Nations (UN)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- World Trade Organization (WTO)
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