Speaking notes for the Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism for a news conference on Haitian Adoptions

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Description: Minister Kenney’s statement on the situation in Haiti following the January 12, 2010 earthquake

Location: National Press Centre, Ottawa, Ontario

Date: Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Time: 8:30 a.m. EST

Duration: 4:39

Alternative Formats: Transcript | MP3 (2.13 MB)

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Thank you. As you know, we are working to reunite families affected by this crisis. Today I will update you on our activities to expedite adoption cases that were already in the system when the earthquake struck.

Adopting from a foreign country is a complex process. First the province determines whether parents are fit to adopt. The foreign government must then agree to the adoption and match parents with a child. We only become aware of cases at the end of the process, when CIC’s role is to allow the child to come to Canada.

We have already identified about 100 such applications in process in our system. We are working to contact those adoptive parents to let them know what we are doing, and we hope to complete those calls by noon today.

We have also contacted the provinces and asked them to send to us their lists of parents already in their systems and we have begun receiving those. We are determining whether we have some level of approval in principle from the Haitian government and we will be approaching Haitian authorities with this list to have their confirmation we can take these children to Canada.

Once we receive that confirmation I have directed my officials to issue temporary resident permits to allow these Haitian children to enter Canada. Regular processing fees will be waived and the federal government will cover health costs until they can be covered under provincial programs.

We will be sending staff to Port-au-Prince to help with these and other immigration files, and we have also established an office in Santo Domingo. But as you know, the government’s own infrastructure in Port-au-Prince has been severely compromised and that does put limits on our services.

We are working urgently with the provinces to identify all the relevant adoption cases we can act on. But we encourage any adoptive parent who has an adoption case under way for a child in Haiti, and who has not been contacted by us, to call or email the CIC Call Centre to discuss their case.

I would note that the CIC Call Centre received 55,000 calls on Monday alone—a 61 percent increase over regular volumes. We are expanding our hours and doing all we can to serve people who are understandably anxious.

Our CIC office in Montréal is organizing a meeting next week with stakeholders to talk about the special measures we are taking, and to discuss concrete ways CIC can support the Haitian community, including providing assistance in filling out sponsorship applications.

I appreciate the interest expressed by many Canadians to adopt children who have lost their family and friends in this terrible tragedy. It’s certainly a testament to Canadians’ generosity and open spirit, but I have to caution that we’re not there yet.

It is international policy and practice to try to first find homes for children who have been orphaned in their own country before placing them in a foreign country.

Over the long term, we’ll consider how we can work with international organizations such as UNICEF in terms of bringing orphans to Canada for adoption. In the meantime persons who are interested in international adoption of a Haitian child should contact their provincial government ministries or adoption agencies to start the process.

In closing, I also want to mention the government is concerned that members of the Haitian-Canadian community are being misled by paid immigration consultants who claim they can speed up the arrival of their loved ones from Haiti.

Let me remind the public that no immigration consultant can speed up this process, and I would ask that you be particularly vigilant with independent consultants at this time.

I can take your questions now.

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