Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge a sad anniversary. Three months ago today, Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake. Today, on April 12, three months later, we are in a situation that seems to be getting worse.
The day after this disaster, we understood that the government was going to make search and rescue operations its priority. Everyone agrees on that. However, two weeks later, when that operation officially ended, I met with representatives of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to provide them, in a very orderly fashion, with information they already had. Before the earthquake, 39 Haitian families from Ottawa—Vanier had already sponsored members of their families for reunification. Since the government had announced its intention to accelerate the process, I thought it was a good idea to provide them with the documents again.
When the House resumed on March 12, I asked the government whether it planned to be as flexible as the Government of Quebec was in temporarily broadening the definition of family member, namely in terms of age. This allowed Canadian citizens of Haitian origin to sponsor and bring into the country people who are now alone, perhaps cousins or people related in some other way to them. I did not get an answer. I think the parliamentary secretary to the minister did not understand my question because there has been no response. That is why I am here today.
I would like to take this time to expand on two other subjects. First, I would like to discuss the refugees arriving from Haiti whose claims have not yet been processed. Many of them have children in Haiti. The government did not waste time bringing orphans here to be adopted by Canadian families not of Haitian origin, and we should acknowledge that it did well in that respect. But what is it doing about people in Canada as refugees whose claims have not yet been processed and who have children in Haiti? These people are not even being allowed to sponsor their own children, who are living in tents in utterly horrifying conditions.
I would like to know if the government is even thinking about these people, about helping them and relaxing the rules.
My second question is about the 140,000 Canadians of Haitian origin, some 130,000 of whom are in Quebec, I am told. Thus, the vast majority of our fellow citizens of Haitian origin are governed by a more flexible system that enables them to take action for their loved ones who are living in impossible situations in Haiti. The other 10,000 who live outside Quebec, many of them in the national capital region in Ontario, find themselves in the devastating position of having to consider moving to Quebec so they can help their family members.
When the government said that it was not prepared to be flexible, did it consider the repercussions of that position on these citizens who live in the same country but are subject to two completely different systems? One system is flexible and responsive; it prioritizes human nature and reflects a strong desire to take action. The other system cannot or will not afford a little flexibility toward the other 10,000 citizens.
Has the government considered what these people are going through?