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iconCANADIAN ROLE Updated March 30, 2009

Section Contents:  Brief Background | Current Approach  | Economic relations

Brief background

The Canadian leadership sees itself reinforcing its position, notably in Haiti where it has had an aid program since the 1960s. Haiti is the main beneficiary of Canadian development aid and personnel deployed in the Americas, and by far the most significant worldwide after Afghanistan. Canada is committed for the long term.

(Extract from 2008 strategy document not yet published.)

Canada has maintained diplomatic links with Haiti without interruption since 1959. It has been involved in Haiti for over 30 years via CIDA and has participated in all the United Nations and OAS missions by providing military, police and civilian personnel. Towards the end of the Duplessis premiership in Quebec (1960), the winds of secularization sweeping through Quebecois institutions generated an intensification of missionary activities of numerous religious congregations towards Africa and Haiti. Numerous Canadian NGOs followed suit and pursued support for development in Haiti.

The Canadian Haitian diaspora is significant (around 120,000 people), spread over several cities (Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa, Trois-Rivières, Sherbrooke, etc.). This diaspora was in the first wave made up of political refugees (the Haitian intellectual and professional elite) escaping the Duvalier dictatorship of the 1960s and 70s; thereafter the subsequent influxes became more diversified. Many of the members of the diaspora participated, and continue to do so, in the community and political life of Canada (as members of parliament, senators, etc.). The Governor General of Canada, Michaelle Jean, made her first official visit to her native country in 2006.

The three following periods defined Canada's engagement over the course of the last 15 years:

1994 to 1995 was the period of return to constitutional order and the end of Jean Bertrand Aristide's mandate; Canada concentrated on emergency aid, food aid, reconstruction and quick impact projects.

1996 to 1999 was the period of the first election to the presidency of René Garcia Préval; Canada wanted to reinforce the capacity of public institutions to deliver essential services to the population.

2000 to 2003 was the period of the contested 2000 elections, not recognized by the OAS. Extremely high levels of corruption forced Canada to bypass the state and provide its aid via a combination of national and international NGOs in order to put pressure on the state for a more transparent management of aid. Canada was not the only country to tie its aid to conditions.

Since then, the international community has learnt some lessons from these experiences.

Current Approach

CIDA expenditures in 2006-2007 on projects and initiatives in Haiti: $92.5 million: CIDA Statistics for 2006-2007

Canada is the second largest bilateral donor with $555 million CAD committed over a period of five years (2006-2011). in its efforts to help in Haiti's reconstruction and development. It is the country's second largest bilateral donor. Haiti is the largest recipient of long term Canadian development assistance in the Americas and the second in the world.

Canada's priorities in Haiti include: reinforcing good governance, helping to build a transparent and responsible government, fighting against corruption, and reestablishing the rule of law.

Canada's assistance is mostly provided through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). It works with the priorities of the Haitian government to focus on the following three pillars: reinforcing the State, providing access to basic services (health, education, and infrastructure), and quickly improving the socio-economic environment.

Increased standard of living

Canada works on many fronts to contribute to poverty reduction in Haiti. In particular, it looks to increase access to heath services and education and to develop basic infrastructure (i.e., roads and electricity). It also contributes to job creation programs and has championed Haitian debt alleviation.

Safer environment

Canada contributes to improving security throughout the country by deploying police offices, military troops, and correctional services expert to the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). In addition is the important role that Canada plays in helping to reform the police and jail systems, the reduction in community violence, and boarder reinforcement.

Sounder democratic structures

Canada is supporting the implementation of a responsible and effective political system. Among other things, Canada is helping strengthen Haiti's executive and legislative branches, public service and civil society so that each can play its rightful role in a modern nation. Canada is also working to strengthen electoral structures to ensure the success of future political transitions in the country.

Strengthened rule of law

Canada is working with the Government of Haiti to strengthen and modernize Haiti's justice system so it can better protect the rights of all its citizens. Efforts are directed at improving access to justice and extending its reach to all areas of government activity.

Better living conditions

Canada is working on several fronts to help reduce poverty in Haiti. Efforts are particularly aimed at improving access to health and education services, and at developing basic infrastructure, such as roads, and electricity. Canada is also contributing to job creation programs and is an advocate for international relief for Haiti's debt.

A more secure environment

Canada is helping to improve security throughout the country by deploying police officers, military personnel and corrections experts to MINUSTAH. In addition, Canada is playing a crucial role in reforming the police force and prison system, reducing violence in communities and enhancing border management.

Fragile states strategy

For Canada, Haiti is part of the group of fragile states, that is to say, countries whose governments are not disposed to assuming the fundamental functions of the state, or who do not have the capacity to do so i.e.: ensure security and legitimate authority; promote and respect human rights and gender equality; respect the rule of law; and provide basic services. Countries are fragile not only when they are on the road to collapse, but also when they are becoming viable once more.

The Canadian strategy in Haiti, which is part of its strategy for the Americas, aims to reinforce the strategic partnerships in the hemisphere. Canada sees this as an occasion to develop projects in trilateral cooperation, which reinforce relations with key countries in the Americas (Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, the Dominican Republic). More generally, Haiti can become a laboratory where a new multilateralism for the Americas can be developed which could in turn serve as a model to manage other high-stake situations like the transition in Cuba.

Canada advocates putting into effect principles that favour more efficient international aid. These principles are taken from the Millennium Declaration and its development goals, the Monterrey Consensus, as well as the Paris Declaration and the principles of engagement with fragile states of the OECD. The application of these principles and goals imply a thorough knowledge of the context, as well as an acceptance of the different rates of change that exist between the providers of aid and the recipients of that aid.

In the framework of their first coordination meeting on Haiti in December 2006, the deputy ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (diplomacy), the Canadian International Development Agency (development), National Defence, Public Safety, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (defence), reached an agreement on a government-wide development strategy. This approach, referred to as 3D (diplomacy, development and defence), is advocated for fragile states.

Canadian ministers of international cooperation, foreign affairs, the Prime Minister himself, as well as the Governor General have all visited Haiti over the last three years. Conferences that brought together ministerial representatives from Brazil and Canada and which focused on Haiti were organized in Brazil, illustrating the diplomatic aspect of the 3D approach.

Pangovernmental team

Canada is providing crucial support to Haiti through a variety of Canadian government departments and agencies - in particular, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Correctional Service Canada, and the Department of National Defense (DND).

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT)

The Department contributes by coordinating pangovernmental efforts as well as mobilizing Canadian, international, and regional partners thanks to its high-level contacts in the political and senior government officials. Haiti is one of DFAIT's priority countries for its Global Peace and Security Fund, which is administered by the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START).

Canadian International Development Agency

The Agency is in charge of Canadian assistance to Haiti. (See below the list of projects.)

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)

Through the International Peace Operations Program of the RCMP, members of the Canadian Civil Police force are sent abroad through UNPOL and work with the Haitian National Police on areas such as management, professional standards, training, and mentoring.

Correctional Service Canada (CSC)

The service works in collaboration with its partners in the international community to contribute to the reform of the legal system and supports the Haitian government's efforts to reinforce its correctional system. [i]

In its strategy document CIDA underlines Canada's support for MINUSTAH in the long term and in the context of the evolution of traditional peace missions which tend now to be more complex and integrated. The mandate assigned to aid in the face of conflict (where there is neither war nor peace and a resurgence of the conflict is possible) has widened and become more complex. Aid today has to deal with issues that were not traditionally part of its remit - security sector reform, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration - in a preventative approach which tackles the tensions and dysfunctions that are likely to lead to another conflict.

Finally, as far as the development aspect is concerned, since the figures for recent engagements and those yet to come, which will be included in the context of national strategy (NSGPR, Haiti's National Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction), are not yet known, below we have used for illustrative purposes a table which synthesizes the breakdown of aid by sector for the past few years.

CIDA expenditures in Haiti: 2002-2012
In little over a week at the end of August 2008, Haiti suffered the devastating effects of hurricanes Fay and Gustav in addition to tropical storm Hannah. Evaluations put the estimates at close to 800,000 in need of humanitarian assistance and reconstruction aid. The number of Haitians directly or indirectly affected by these extreme metrological conditions was much higher. Some estimate that the economic impact of these catastrophes might actually be greater than hurricane Jeanne that hit Haiti in 2004. A large percentage of the population was already trying to overcome massive challenges - 53% of Haitians live on less than USD $1 a day while the cost of basic foodstuffs has increased more than 40% since the beginning of the year.


Floods in Haiti - Emergency response and enforcement agencies



Pan American Health Organization
The PAHO coordinates humanitarian work in the health sector, the spread of contagious diseases and vector control; continued access to heath care and medication, ensuring that reproductive health measures are in place and that women can safely give birth.


$232 000

World Vision

The organisation meets needs through emergency shelter, health and hygiene for approximately 1,500 families of the Central Plateau, the Gonaves and the Northwest area of Haiti. The organization distributes bedding and hygienic articles, kitchen utensils, and containers for water.


$250 000

World Food Programme

The WFP provides coordination and information management services that support emergency operations and humanitarian organizations to help ensure a more effective response. It also coordinates logistical aspects such as air, sea, and ground transportation, storage, information management, GIS cartography (Geographic Information Systems) and protecting convoys.



$750 000

International Organisation for Migration

The IOM provides transportation and distributes non-food essentials; provides tools and materials required for reconstructing housing; supports the protection of disaster victims; improves temporary housing.


$1 000 000


United Nations Children's Fund

UNICEF provides affected families with access to clean drinking water and sewage facilities and provides training/awareness activities on reducing the risks of waterborne disease.


$500 000

The Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI) distributes toiletries and kitchen utensils to 1,760 families, helps them participate in cleaning and reconstruction of homes and schools, and creates remunerated work programs. 700 people from the following areas have been targeted: Gonaïves, Saint Marc, Ennery and Gros Morne, in the area of Artibonite.


$293 000

Oxfam Québec

Oxfam provides 1,500 families with access to emergency housing and necessary household items by distributing bedding, mosquito nets, kitchen utensils and construction and renovation materials. To ensure that 1,500 families in the areas of Artibonite and Nippes have access to clean drinking water for adequate hygiene, the organisation distributes bottled water, water purification tablets and personal items.


$250 000

Children's Aid
AEC tries to protect 7,000 families in the areas of Cabaret, Fonds-Verrettes and Ganthier against public health risks and distributes clean drinking water, toiletries and bedding, in addition to kitchen utensils.



$234 000

Other projects and enforcement agencies

Support Project to the Primature (Appui à la Primature en Haïti)

The Haitian Prime Minister is supported by Canadian expertise in order to support the creation and implementation of external political cooperation and the coordination and fostering political dialogue with international partners.


$565 000

Debt and national development service

Department of Economy and Finance of the Government of Haiti


$16 000 000

CIDA distributes a large part of its assistance to Haiti through grants. In 2003, the Agency financed the Centre for the Management of Local Grants, which administers and coordinates the money given though a variety of grants.

Centre for the Management of Local Grants - Phase II


$11 636 000

Batilavi CGF Fund

Emergency funds for the inner-city population of Port-au-Prince and the Gonaïves.


$6 000 000

Development and Employment Funds - phase II CGF

Finances small production investments, welfare amenities or water installations in the inner-city areas of Port-au-Prince as well as in other regions covered by the Canadian program.


$5 000 000

Democracy and Peace Support Fund (FDP) CGF

Supports good governance and human rights and promotes democracy and peace in Haiti. Projects are financed and implemented by Haitian civil society organizations as well as by state institutions.


$5 000 000

Health and Education Fund - phase II CGF

Improve the quality, access and governance of basic education services and basic healthcare for underprivileged populations in areas targeted by Canadian development.


$19 000 000

Economic development and employment Fund (FODEM) CGF

Promotes job creation by supporting economic and community opportunities that support the local population to manage its own development and support the rehabilitation and the construction of social and economic infrastructure.


$7 000 000

Social Development Fund CGF

Contributes to increased health and education services, increased access to these services and increased quality of services for the communities they serve.


$12 000 000


Fund for Support of Justice and Human Rights - Phase II
This project supports initiatives that promote access to justice and defend the rights of Haitians before the courts.


$5 000 000

Support Unit (UAPC) - Phase V

It is a structure supporting Canada's cooperation program in Haiti whose goal Is to increase the effectiveness of Canada's official development aid in Haiti.


$5 000 000

Health System Development Support
Embassy of Canada

The PADESS project aims to harmonize governance activities in the health sector. It also aims to bring about change through three components that focus on: i) strengthening the regulatory role of the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP); ii) developing a shared vision of the health sector; and iii) strengthening Canada's aid effectiveness.


$18 750 000

CIDA also assists projects through multilateral executing agencies

Extended Vaccination Program Support OPS
The project aims to reduce infant mortality through expansion of routine immunization to include all departments of the country.


$17 500 000

Basic Economic Infrastructure Renovation
Inter-American Development Bank
This project allows for 8 to 15 additional projects, primarily in area of roads.


$19 800 000

Les Cayes-Jérémie Road Route. Inter-american Development Bank

The project consists of constructing and rehabilitating 92 km of road between Les Cayes and Jérémie, including paving, drainage, and signage.

2008 /2011

$75 000 000

Local development - Communes of Marmelade and Plaisance

Food and Agriculture Organization

This project helps farmers control their individual and collective development and increase their income by diversifying and improving their agricultural output while ensuring soil conservation.


$5 000 000

United Nations Appeal to Support Haiti's Stabilization
UNDP - Haiti
The objective of this project is to promote equality between men and women and social peace in Haiti.


$9 225 000

Local Development - Nord-Est
This project aims at continuing efforts to improve living conditions within the four communes of the department of Nord-Est.


$3 650 000

Project State of Rights in Haiti

This project strengthens the Ministry of Justice and the penitentiary system in the development of legal and judicial services.


$5 000 000

Support for the Ministry of Justice

Agence Intergouvernementale de la francophonie

Institutional strengthening and improving the operation of the judicial apparatus.


$5 000 000

Support for the OAS Special Mission

Organization of American States Supports the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Mission and its contribution to conflict resolution.


$10 000 000

CIDA also directly supports Canadian NGOs and their projects in Haiti

Support to the Haitian Government

The Parliamentary Centre builds the capacities of the Parliament and parliamentary commissions in the interest of more effective preparation and passage of legislature.


$5 000 000

Governance Strengthening,

École Nationale d'administration Publique

Contributes to strengthening governance in Haiti through the transfer of expertise from the public service of Quebec and the École nationale d'administration publique (ÉNAP) to the public service of Haiti to meet the needs expressed by the Government of Haiti, particularly by strengthening public-sector financial management and the development of a professional public service and providing support in capacity-building and technology transfer.


$4 999 600

Health Management Capacity Building Support

Université de Montréal

The health management capacity building support project (PARC) aims to improve governance of Haiti's health system by helping: i) to develop and implement human resources development policies and strategies in the health sector; ii) to strengthen health management training systems; and iii) to achieve knowledge and ongoing improvement of health management training systems.


$17 500 000

Support to combat STI/HIV/AIDS - Phase II

Consortium CCISD-CECI

Reduction in the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS in Artibonite Department, thanks to support for: i) governance of health institutions; ii) appropriate services (welcoming attitudes, treatment, monitoring, availability of drugs), high-risk clienteles (sex trade workers, youth, women victims of violence); and iii) general STI/HIV/AIDS services.


$19 060 000

Preventive, Care and Treatment for HIV/AIDS in Cité-Soleil

Médecins du Monde Canada

Supports the Centre hospitalier Sainte-Catherine de Labouré (CHOSCAL) at Cité Soleil to create a centre for the case management of vulnerable persons affected with HIV.


$500 000

Local Development Program

Socio-economic development aimed at improving living conditions by directly addressing the problem of low income earners within the population as a whole, focusing on the promotion of small businesses, and encouraging environmental protection and agricultural productivity.


$20 000 000


Développement international Desjardins

Support to Haitian Savings and Credit Cooperatives (ACOOPECH).


$15 000 000

Support for local development and agroforestry in Nippes

Oxfam Québec

Promoting agroforestry models that will ensure better management of natural resources and assist with agricultural marketing.


$6 150 000

Peace Consolidation
Institute for State Effectiveness
Haitian literature review for a two-day workshop in Ottawa with CIDA representatives and other involved Canadian government departments involved in Haiti's development as well as the Government of Haiti's ministries.


$77 000

Economic relations

Canada signed an accord with Haiti in 2003 in the context of the Initiative for Less Developed Countries (ILDC) which aimed to eliminate customs tariffs on all Haitian products with the exception of milk, poultry and eggs. Interest in this initiative resurfaced during a conference sponsored by CIDA and Scotiabank and coordinated by the Canadian embassy in Haiti on 15 March 2007.

The ILDC also enables Canada to import from Haiti textiles and other related products free of duty. Representatives from the Haitian textile industry have subsequently visited Canada. This industrial sector could provide some interesting commercial opportunities.


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