Canada to deploy 2nd plane to aid typhoon-hit Philippines
Canada will also prioritize applications from Filipinos who are 'significantly and personally' affected
National Defence Minister Rob Nicholson says Canada will deploy a second military transport plane on Wednesday as part of Canada’s aid contribution to the typhoon-hit Philippines.
"We will also be deploying a second CC177 Globemaster 3 from 8 Wing Trenton to begin moving additional personnel and equipment to the affected region," Nicholson said in Ottawa.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed in a Twitter post Wednesday evening that Canada's military Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) had landed in the city of Iloilo in the Philippines.
"Canada's DART is wheels down ILOILO, PH w/ lifesaving personnel & equipment. We're making a difference for those most affected by #Haiyan," the prime minister said on Twitter.
Harper visited the Philippine embassy in Ottawa Wednesday morning where he signed a book of condolences on behalf of all Canadians and offered his personal assurances to the Philippine ambassador.
"I will be keeping in touch with my officials regularly to make sure that our programs of assistance, both our matching funds and programs on the ground, are rolling out," Harper said.
The Canadian reconnaissance team, which has been in Manila since Tuesday, will also be making its way to Iloilo, Nicholson told reporters earlier in the day.
"There is huge loss of life," Nicholson said.
The advance team — which includes 17 Canadian Forces personnel and about a dozen civilians, mainly from the Department of Foreign Affairs — is working with other partners in the area to provide much-needed aid.
The Canadian Forces C-17 that left CFB Trenton on Monday was carrying 43 members of the DART, along with their equipment, which included ambulances, a forklift, a communications truck, as well as a fully supplied medical team.
Nicholson had said the DART would be available "at a moment's notice" once the Canadian advance team had provided its assessment.
The second plane was expected to take off from Trenton Wednesday evening.
Medical team, field hospital deployed
Nicholson was accompanied by Laureen Harper, the prime minister's wife, and representatives from the Canadian Red Cross for the announcement.
Harper said she and her husband were in the Philippines over a year ago.
"It is such a beautiful country with such kind, beautiful people. To see pictures of what the Philippines looks like today and the suffering of the Filipino people, well it's just hard to believe it's the same place. It's absolutely heartbreaking," the prime minister's wife said.
She thanked the Red Cross volunteers who will be deploying to the Philippines.
"Your sacrifice is meaningful and you're going to make a difference," Harper said.
"From all Canadians, thank you."
Nicholson announced, earlier in the day, the deployment of a Canadian Red Cross 12-person medical team and a field hospital to provide urgently needed emergency health support in the Philippines.
At least 2,275 people were left dead and thousands injured after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last week, leaving a trail of destruction that has affected about 11 million people.
"To address the growing needs in this quickly evolving situation, we are working with the Canadian Red Cross to deploy an emergency field hospital and medical team to provide urgently needed health support services," Nicholson said in a news release.
Immigration measures in effect
Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander also announced today special immigration measures in support of the federal government’s response to Typhoon Haiyan.
In an interview with CBC News, Alexander said the Canadian government would begin expediting the immigration files of those "who have been personally affected by this tragedy to make sure they're able to get their visas, their permanent resident papers, or any other help that they need from us in an immigration frame quickly and efficiently."
In addition to prioritizing the processing of applications from Filipinos who are "significantly and personally" affected by the typhoon, the Canadian Embassy in Manila will also expedite the applications of Canadians who are without travel documents as a result of the typhoon.
Requests from Filipino citizens temporarily in Canada who wish to extend their stay will be assessed in a "compassionate and flexible manner," Alexander said.
Canada initially committed $30,000 to aid the Philippines. Immediately after the typhoon hit, Canada announced an initial contribution of $5 million to help those impacted.
Twenty-four hours later, Canada launched the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund, which will match eligible donations by individual Canadians dollar-for-dollar.
With files from The Canadian Press