Backgrounder: The Government of Canada and Haiti

Wednesday, December 14 2011

Canada has a long history of collaborating with Haiti. This relationship has been fostered by our use of the French language, the large Haitian community in Canada, Canada’s continued support for development and security in Haiti, and specific programs by the Government of Canada. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) has announced that among its priorities for 2011-2012 year is the coordination “of a whole-of-government engagement in Haiti to strengthen governance, security, stability and reconstruction”.   This is to be assured through the cooperation of a multitude of government agencies such as DFAIT, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Canada Border Security Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Correctional Service of Canada, Citizenship and Immigration, and the Department of National Defence.

Much of Canada’s commitment to Haiti is coordinated under the auspices of the United Nations.  This includes peacekeeping deployments, civilian police training missions, contributions to the World Food Program, and participation on the UN Economic and Social Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti.  Following the January 2010 earthquake, the Government of Canada committed more than $1 billion towards Haiti, making it Canada’s largest beneficiary for aid in the Americas and Canadians the world’s lead donors per capita to Haiti. 

Canada also demonstrates its solidarity with Haiti through CIDA, which has named Haiti one of its target countries for improving maternal, newborn and child health.  Among the new CIDA initiatives announced in January 2011 are the construction of 35 semi-permanent schools and tuition waivers for impoverished families; financial credit for viable agricultural enterprises; a project led by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace to re-enforce food security for up to 20,000 rural families; training in agricultural practices; and increases in health clinics and maternity wards.  These commitments are in addition to ongoing reconstruction efforts.

Though progress is being made in the recovery and reconstruction of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, there are still many challenges.   These include the cholera outbreak which affected 344,623 people and killed 5,397 between October 2010 and June 2011. More recently, Haiti held its first post-earthquake elections, leading to the election of President Michel Martelly.  Click here to see the homily of the Most Reverend Louis Kébreau, Archbishop of Capt-Haïtien and former President of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti, on the occasion of the 14 May 2011 inauguration of President Martelly.

The President of the CCCB, Archbishop Richard Smith, its Vice President Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, and Assistant General Secretary Mr. Bede Hubbard will participate in a solidarity mission to Haiti which is being organized by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, December 14-21, 2011.