The federal government is looking to significantly reduce the amount of aid it sends to Haiti, according to internal documents, saying it has fulfilled its post-earthquake commitments to a country that has long played a key role in Canada’s development strategy. A spokesman for the newly formed Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development said last week that future funding for the Caribbean country is “still under review.” But briefing notes obtained by The Globe and Mail show the government made plans to scale back its contributions to Haiti to about $90-million per year – a major drop in funding for a country that has been a Canadian priority for years.
“The Haiti program is planning against an indicative budget of $90-million annually, which reflects the level of funding prior to the 2010 earthquake, is commensurate with development needs in Haiti and Canada’s traditional role there,” say the documents, which were written in the fall of 2012.
By comparison, Canada gave about $205-million in overall assistance to Haiti during the fiscal year ending in March, 2012, including more than $150-million in direct aid from CIDA. It is not clear from the documents whether the $90-million refers to funding for Haiti from all federal departments or only to the portion that was previously managed by CIDA. In 2009, Haiti received about $198-million in total aid from Canada.
Across Canada, people reacted swiftly to the massive 2010 earthquake in Haiti. As reports of major devastation on the ground went global, thousands in Canada mobilized to support the Haitian people through grassroots benefit concerts, telethons, and community collections in a historic expression of international solidarity and one of the largest disaster relief fundraising efforts in Canadian history.
In Quebec, home to one of the largest Haitian diaspora communities in the world, the earthquake clearly touched a collective nerve. On the streets in Montreal, Haitians held vigils to express collective loss and solidarity. Those who lost or were actively searching for relatives worked tirelessly to mobilize support, holding countless community fundraisers, cultural events, and donation drives.
Two months ago, THAC was invited to lead a discussion following a showing of the Al Jazeera report, “Haiti After the Quake.” The showing was hosted by Socialist Action as part of their recurring Rebel Film Series. My colleague Ajamu and I went to represent THAC.
The program is pretty interesting, and conveniently, it’s available on YouTube: