Mr. Chair, I would like to begin by expressing my deepest sympathies to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
I rise today to talk about the Government of Canada's swift actions in support of Canadian citizens affected by this devastating typhoon. I do so in my role as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, responsible for consular. Canada's consular response to the typhoon is but one element of the whole-of-government response to this humanitarian disaster. I will focus today on consular aspects.
The Department of Foreign Affairs began quickly and effectively reaching out to Canadians before the storm even hit the Philippines. Assisting Canadians in the region before and after this disaster has been a priority of our consular officials at the Embassy of Canada in Manila and in Ottawa.
The typhoon made landfall in the Philippines on November 8, 2013. On Wednesday, November 6, the embassy in Manila sent its first message to registered Canadians warning of the storm. Our department's travel advice was updated on the same day and posted online at travel.gc.ca, and two more messages were sent on November 8.
The first advised that the embassy would be temporarily closed due to the storm. The second advised that the typhoon had made landfall and reminded Canadians to monitor local news and weather sites. It also urged Canadians to call family in Canada to let them know they were okay, and on the same day the embassy's Facebook page and Twitter feeds were used to update Canadians.
The day the storm struck, and every day since, the consular staff at the embassy has been reaching out to Canadians to confirm their location and their well-being, and to ask if they need consular assistance. On a daily basis, they continue to try to reach Canadians whose whereabouts have yet to be confirmed, by every means available.
Mr. Chair, I think I forgot to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands.
I will continue to talk about what our department is doing. Our officials are calling and sending emails and texts and using social media. The same communication mechanisms have been used to provide information on transportation options and other advice.
The destruction of communications infrastructure has complicated these efforts. Communications are improving. The embassy's consular outreach efforts are now more successful.
We have bolstered our capacity at our emergency watch and operation centre here in Ottawa. The emergency watch and operation centre continues to take calls and emails from Canadians involved in the situation in the Philippines. This watch is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We have also mobilized our standing rapid deployment team. This is to increase staff on the ground in the Philippines, and they are helping to reach out to affected Canadians and provide assistance.
The embassy has deployed a consular immigration team to Tacloban, where we maintain a daily presence. We maintain a daily presence to identify Canadian citizens and to assist Canadian citizens in departing the area.
The team, supported by local Philippine National Police, is now actively reaching out into the vicinity of Tacloban City, checking last known locations for Canadian citizens in the area. A consular team was also placed alongside the DART in Roxas City to assist Canadians in that area. Of our missing Canadians in the area, all were accounted for and visited. That team has now moved on to locate and help Canadians in need in other areas.
The embassy has reached out to allies to ensure effective information sharing and coordinate our efforts. Canadian consular officials are providing similar services to all our allies. I am proud of our government's response to this crisis.
I would like to assure members that the emergency and consular assistance will continue to be provided to those Canadian citizens in need in the Philippines. I want to congratulate those who have worked so hard on the ground to help Canadians who are in need.