At the end of January, Québec Premier Jean Charest, accompanied by Minister of International Relations Pierre Arcand, met with the Prime Minister of Haiti, Jean-Max Bellerive, who was in Montréal for a ministerial meeting leading up to a major conference on planning the reconstruction of the Caribbean country. The meeting participants included the Canadian, French, American and Brazilian foreign ministers.
Premier Charest took the opportunity to offer his condolences to Prime Minister Bellerive and assure him of the Québec nation’s solidarity with the people of Haiti. He told his Haitian counterpart that Québec is working to identify tangible ways to support the rebuilding of Haiti, and said that he will pay attention to the needs expressed by the Haitian government.
Since 1997, in addition to providing emergency assistance in the wake of natural disasters, the Government of Québec has supported over a hundred projects in Haiti. According to Premier Charest, “In addition to international assistance, Québec takes part in Haitian development by transferring knowledge and expertise. We do this through a project to support and bolster public policy called PARGEP, and by sending police officers from various police forces to work with MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti]. Hydro-Québec has also been working with Électricité d’Haïti for several years to upgrade EDH’s management and action capabilities.”
Québec and Haiti are the two main francophone societies in the Americas, and Québec is home to a large Haitian community, concentrated in Montréal. Québec’s International Policy singles out Haiti for priority in terms of international solidarity efforts.
The assistance deployed by Québec since the earthquake includes a humanitarian sponsorship program to facilitate family reunification. Up until the end of 2010, this special program will allow Quebecers who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents to avail themselves of exceptional measures for sponsoring newcomers.
The Government of Québec is offering its services (immigration procedures, psychosocial help, emergency financial assistance, etc.) at three multiservice help centres in Montréal set up specially for Quebecers affected by the Haitian earthquake. In addition to government assistance, the centres provide community services.
In January, Premier Charest announced $3 million in emergency financial assistance for international cooperation organizations already involved in humanitarian operations in Haiti. The Québec government has also made police and medical personnel available for on-the-ground deployment and has set up a committee at Montréal-Trudeau Airport to welcome Canadian nationals as they arrive from Haiti.
Relations between Québec and Haiti