On January 12, 2010, Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake. In response to this tragedy, the Québec government provided $3 million in emergency aid on January 18 to five international cooperation agencies already carrying out humanitarian operations in Haiti:

Various government departments were involved in Québec’s response to the disaster. Major emergency efforts include the following:

  • The Ministère des l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MESS) set up an emergency financial assistance program (PAFU) to meet the temporary needs of people affected by the earthquake.
  • At the request of the Haitian Consulate General in Montréal, the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) made $580,000 worth of medical supplies and equipment available to Haiti.
  • The Ministère de l’Immigration et des Communautés culturelles (MICC) implemented a temporary humanitarian sponsorship program for Haiti to allow family members not covered by the regular family immigration program to come to Québec. According to an MICC estimate, some 5,000 Haitians will have been able to put down new roots in Québec by the end of the program.

Examples of efforts and results

  • 4,278 Canadian nationals, many of Haitian origin, were welcomed
  • Three multiservice aid centres were opened
  • 110 Haitians were granted tuition waivers

A Medium and Long-Term Commitment

Beyond emergency aid, the Québec government remains committed to Haitian reconstruction in the medium and long terms. Two major consultations have been held to identify ways in which Québec can play a decisive role in the process.

  • A consultation meeting on Haiti, chaired by the Minister of International Relations and Minister responsible for La Francophonie, was held on March 22, 2010. It brought together the leading Québec stakeholders involved in Haiti (international cooperation agencies, universities and colleges, municipalities, companies, representatives of the Haitian diaspora).
  • The Minister of International Relations and Minister responsible for La Francophonie carried out a mission to Haiti on April 30 and May 1, 2010, in order to observe the situation first-hand, take note of the work carried out by the five organizations benefiting from emergency financial assistance from Québec ($3 million), meet with Haitian political officials, particularly the President of the Republic, René Garcia Préval, identify needs of the Haitian government that could met through Québec expertise and provide support for the Reporters without Borders media centre.

Based on consultations in Haiti, with the diaspora and with Québec partners active in the Caribbean nation, Québec identified a series of efforts for deployment in Haiti, focusing on the following two areas :

  • sharing of expertise, particularly in the public sector
  • support for economic development

The Québec government has also maintained its long-standing commitment to Haitian civil society.

Québec initiatives under way in Haiti prior to January 12, 2010, have continued despite the earthquake. Activities deployed under the Haitian Governance Enhancement Project (PARGEP) have resumed and projects by international cooperation organizations continue to receive support under the Québec International Development Program (PQDI).

Québec efforts in Haiti include the following :

  • Three experts in physical rehabilitation were deployed to Haiti in 2011. With a budget of $90,000, the project provided support and training for local Haitian personnel. It was made possible by the Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie (MRIFCE) and the Ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MSSS), in partnership with Handicap International, a Québec-based civil society organization.
  • To reboot credit in Haiti, the MRIFCE has granted $1 million in assistance for the five-year period from 2010 to 2015, in collaboration with Développement international Desjardins (DID), the Haitian credit union network and Fédération Le Levier. The money goes toward an entrepreneurship fund for small and micro businesses in Haiti.
  • Based in Montréal, the Association des clubs d’entrepreneurs étudiants de la Francophonie (ACEE Francophonie) has joined with a Haitian partner, ETRE ayisien, to provide Haitian youth with support in the area of entrepreneurship development, through the creation of a national association of Haitian student entrepreneur clubs.
  • A call for proposals devoted to Haiti was launched in 2011, targeting municipalities in Québec and France interested in working with a Haitian partner to deploy a local development project. For 2012, a project involving the Conférence régional des élus de la Chaudière-Appalaches (CRE–CA), the Essonne Regional Council and the Fonds haïtien d’appui au dévelopment du Sud (FHADS) has been retained. Another call for proposals was launched in the spring of 2012.
  • The Secrétariat à l’adoption internationale (SAE) has been working with the Haitian government since 2012 on the creation of a legislative framework providing better protection of children’s basic rights, in compliance with international standards and the Hague Convention on Protection of Children.
  • A Québec government representative in Haiti, based in the Canadian embassy in Port-au-Prince, will soon be named. Among other duties, the representative will be responsible for developing economic and trade relations between Québec and Haiti.

At the same time, Québec will take advantage of its participation in major international forums, namely the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), UNESCO and the Organization of American States, to confirm and expand its solidarity with Haiti in collaboration with other members of the global community. At the Francophone Summit in Montreux, Switzerland, held on October 23 and 24, 2010, Québec joined with the Haitian delegation to present a resolution in favour of Haitian rebuilding. Québec also supports initiatives such as the following :

  • Significant financial support is provided for IFADEM, a distance training initiative for teachers, deployed by the OIF and the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), aligned with international efforts in favour of high-quality basic education for all. IFADEM is aimed at improving the skills of teachers in French and French teaching (contribution of $550,000 over a two-year period starting in 2012).
  • As of May 2012, a Québec education expert has been seconded for a year (with a renewal option) to work on one of six projects under way at the UNESCO office in Port-au-Prince, focusing on decentralization of education system activities outside the Haitian capital.
  • Since January 2012, a Québec government employee has been available to serve as a political affairs consultant at the Organization of American States office in Port-au-Prince.

Québec's initiatives in Haiti before the earthquake

Well before the January 12, 2010, earthquake, Haiti was singled out as an international solidarity priority in Québec’s International Policy. The special relationship between Québec and Haiti may be explained by factors such as the following:

  • common language, i.e., French
  • geographical proximity within the Americas
  • presence of a large Haitian community in Québec
  • presence in Haiti of a number of Québec civil society organizations (NGOs, churches, universities, etc.)

The Québec International Development Program (PQDI)

Haiti is the number-one beneficiary of the Québec International Development Program. Since 1997, more than a hundred projects have received support under the PQDI (total allocation of more than $10 million).

Haitian Governance Enhancement Project (PARGEP)

Via the École nationale d’administration publique (ENAP) in Québec City, Québec has signed a tripartite agreement with Haiti and Canada regarding implementation of the Haitian Governance Enhancement Project (PARGEP). The purpose of this five-year project (2007-2012) is to facilitate the transfer of Québec public service expertise to the Haitian administration, in order to strengthen Haiti’s senior civil service and improve public services provided to Haitians. The Québec government is contributing $1.5 million, in the form of salaries for human resources from its departments and agencies involved in the project. In March 2012, the three government partners authorized the extension of the project for two additional years, up to December 31, 2014.

Strong ties

Québec has established direct ties with the Haitian government. A number of Haitian government ministers have visited Québec in the past few years, and Québec’s Minister of Labour attended the swearing-in ceremony of President Michel Martelly in May 2011. Premier Charest met with former President René Préval on several occasions and carried out a mission to Haiti in 2005. In January and March 2010, he met with Haiti’s Prime Minister of the time, Jean-Max Bellerive.

Québec and Haiti signed a joint declaration on cooperation in the areas of culture and communication on October 18, 2008, during the Francophone Summit in Québec City. In the field of the higher education, an agreement enabling 34 Haitian students per year to pay the same tuition fees as Québec students (instead of the higher fees normally charged to foreign students) was signed in 2011.

The Centre for the International Promotion of Québec Public Expertise (CVIEPQ) is currently involved in three projects in Haiti, the country where it is the most active. One of the projects, spearheaded by the Organization of American States, is aimed at modernizing and integrating Haiti’s civil register.

Police officers from several Québec police forces are present in Haiti as part of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

On December 10, 2007, the mayors of Montréal and Port-au-Prince signed a cooperation agreement covering the period from 2008 to 2013. Since the signing of this agreement, the commitment to cooperation has taken the shape of a broader cooperation project under the aegis of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ) and the City of Montréal, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency. The expanded initiative also covers small municipalities in the south of the country.

Centrech Haiti.

Photo: Centrech

Last update: 2019-04-18 10:12:13 AM