June 28, 2014 – Toronto
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Friends, I am pleased to join you today on behalf of my colleague, the Honourable Christian Paradis, Canada’s Minister of International Development and for La Francophonie.
Minister Paradis regrets that he cannot be here for the Pinoy Fiesta and Trade Show. He has asked me to convey his sincerest thanks for inviting him to attend.
Last fall, the Minister travelled to the Philippines, as the sun was finally rising to reveal the full destruction that Typhoon Haiyan had left behind.
It was, for Minister Paradis, an opportunity to survey the damage. And to get a full sense of what role Canada could play to help meet the growing humanitarian needs of the millions of people who were affected in some way.
If the Minister was so quick to jump on a plane and go into that disaster zone, it was because of the long-standing friendship that exists between Canada and the Philippines.
Indeed, our bilateral relations are strong and friendly, and marked by close cooperation in many areas.
Our embassy in Manila, for example, works with the Government of the Philippines, members of civil society, and international organizations to promote democratic development, good governance, rule of law, peace, and the protection of human rights for all Filipinos.
These are the very hallmarks of Canada’s principle-based foreign policy.
We believe in dignity for all people—that freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are the values upon which pluralistic societies are built, and the values to which all human beings are entitled.
We know we have a responsibility to help the global community reach its full potential.
And we understand that our global reputation as a nation steeped in philanthropic engagement positions us well to offer assistance and expertise in areas of the world that need it.
It is why we were so quick to contribute to the recovery effort in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
And it is why today I am announcing more Canadian support—in this case to help address the immediate needs of thousands of conflict-affected families in the Philippines.
Decades of ongoing fighting on Mindanao Island have caused far too many people to suffer unimaginable consequences.
They live in dire conditions, without the basic necessities to, if not live comfortably, then at least get by.
Canada wants to help change that.
So we are providing the International Organization for Migration with $800,000 in new humanitarian assistance funding.
This contribution is going towards a project that will address immediate needs on Mindanao Island.
It will improve access to safe drinking water.
Make sanitation and hygiene facilities easier to find and use.
And improve nutrition for families and individuals who struggle to find enough nutritious food.
Our assistance will support the IOM’s efforts to better coordinate and manage camps for more than 25,000 internally displaced people in 10 evacuation centres and four temporary shelters.
And it will improve conditions in these shelters by providing privacy partitions for approximately 4,000 families.
The IOM’s Chief of Mission in the Philippines, Marco Boasso, has called our contribution generous. And he has said that it will help thousands of vulnerable people.
Few rewards are greater than this… knowing that our assistance will make a difference in the lives of so many.
It has long been Canada’s commitment to provide appropriate, timely and effective humanitarian assistance, in response to conflicts and natural disasters.
We do it to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain the dignity of those who are affected.
With today’s announcement, Canada proudly reaffirms this commitment in the Philippines. And, more specifically, to the people of Mindanao Island, who bear the scars of years of conflict in that region.
May this funding help them find their way, and overcome the challenges they face.