MONTREAL — Canada has decided to halt development funds that would normally be sent to Haiti due to frustration at the widespread corruption and lack of progress rebuilding the country, International Aid Minister Julian Fantino says.
Emergency humanitarian assistance and projects already underway are unaffected, but the edict will shut the taps indefinitely on other aid projects until Ottawa can engineer a system that ensures value and results for the money given to the Haiti, he said in an interview Friday.
“If I can put it to you bluntly, we will not be signing any more blank cheques,” Fantino said. “There will be expectations and accountability associated with future aid.”
Canada’s review of its annual $ 50-million aid relationship with the Caribbean country comes as Haiti prepares to mark the three-year anniversary of the http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/749823—disaster-and-chaos-in-haiti-after-major-earthquakedeadly 2010 earthquake, and it has prompted concern at the highest levels of Canada’s Haitian diaspora.
“I’d like to know what he means,’” Jean said in an interview from Ottawa. “I hope that (it) means we’re reflecting on a better way to help Haiti … If it becomes a closure, that would be a catastrophe.”
Canada is the second-largest donor to Haiti after the United States, and the news, which Fantino said he delivered in person during his maiden visit to the country last November, will certainly come hard.
CIDA sent $ 31.5-million to Haiti in 2010-11, $ 28-million of which was classified as going to http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/eng/ANN-102891452-HJUemergency-response projects. The Canadian military and foreign ministry provided Haiti with an additional $ 18-million in international assistance.
Fantino said that there are “excellent, excellent programs” that will continue, including those focused on boosting the health of mothers and their babies as well as one that ensures children are fed while at school.
“But we have expectations that there be much more progress, and we’re kind of disappointed that things are so slow and we’re concerned about that,” he said.
Jean defended the slow pace of recovery in Haiti, noting that problems like corruption can be found everywhere, including in Canada. She also said that international donors could do a better job supporting the Haitian government’s own plans to build an economy fuelled by more than global charity.
Jean, who travels to Haiti every two months, spent her last visit examining the country’s tourism infrastructure. She took her family on a working vacation that ended on the same November day that Fantino’s four-day tour of Haiti began.
“I wanted to do exactly as a tourist would do. That means I reserved my own tickets, I booked a car, I took the boat from Les Cayes to Île à Vache because I wanted to see the quality of the hotels and infrastructure,” she recounted.
The family even got a tour of the local hospitals when her husband fell from a horse near Jacmel. He promptly received an X-ray and was able to have his prescription filled at a local pharmacy with no difficulty or delay, she said.
“Twenty years ago, the Dominican Republic adopted the same strategy that the Haitian government is adopting right now,” she said. “They built airports, they supported investments in that sector and then, boom, that made the difference.”
“If you look back in history, Haiti was a destination for tourism and they’ve certainly got the climate and the conditions there,” he said. “But conditions otherwise don’t really lend themselves to attracting a whole lot of tourists.”