It has been several weeks since a strong earthquake, measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, devastated Haiti. I would like to provide an update on what the Government of Canada is doing to assist those in Haiti, and to let you know what individual Canadians can do to help.
Our government has announced that we will contribute $85 million in assistance for Haiti. In addition, we will also match donations individual Canadians make to eligible charities that are supporting the relief efforts in Haiti. A list of these eligible charities can be found at the Canada Revenue Agency’s website (www.cra.gc.ca), or by calling (800) 267 2384.
Donors need not contact the Government of Canada, as we will automatically match any donations made to eligible charities for the Haiti relief efforts. In order to avoid fraud, we urge you to check to see if the charity is registered before you give, and ensure that your donations are earmarked by the charity for the relief efforts in Haiti.
It is also important to note that the best way to help in Haiti is to donate money, rather than goods. Money donated to aid organizations can be efficiently and immediately put to use, while donation of food, clothes or other supplies often take time and resources to coordinate and use, and can actually slow down the relief effort.
In addition to our government’s monetary assistance, we have also dispatched the men and women of our Canadian Armed Forces. Some 2,000 soldiers, sailors and air force personnel have been sent to Haiti to assist in the relief efforts. This includes two ships, the destroyer HMCS Athabaska, carrying a CH-124 Sea King Helicopter, and the frigate HMCS Halifax. It also includes six CH-146 Griffon helicopters and our Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART). Our military is providing emergency medical services, engineering expertise, relief supplies and security support.
We have had also announced special immigration measures that will help expedite certain applications of Haitians to Canada.
We have also setup an emergency operations centre, which has received over 32,000 calls, located 1,945 Canadians, and coordinated 27 flights for the evacuation of 2,424 Canadians (as of January 25, 2010). If you need to contact this emergency operations centre, you can do so, 24 hours a day, at (800) 267 6788.
Canada has responded in an exceptional way to this crisis. Citizens from coast-to-coast have rallied, with the result that Canada is one of the top donors in the world to the Haitian relief efforts. Canadians have responded in the best traditions of our nation, and generously donated to those most in need. I want to extend my condolences to all those touched by this tragedy and thank those who have given so generously.