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2005-01

CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION CANADA RESPONDS TO THE CRISIS IN SOUTH AND SOUTH EAST ASIA

OTTAWA, January 3, 2005 — The Honourable Judy Sgro, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), today expressed her condolences to the victims of the tragedy in South and South East Asia and outlined actions her department is taking to help Canadian citizens and permanent residents in the wake of the disaster.

“The Government of Canada is committed to doing as much as we can to help reunite close family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have been, and continue to be, seriously and personally affected by the disaster,” said Minister Sgro. “Our officials are working around the clock to ensure this.”

CIC is expediting existing applications of Family Class applicants under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act who have been and continue to be seriously and personally affected by the disaster and who have immediate family members in Canada. Priority is being given to spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners and dependent children. New applications under the Family Class will be dealt with as expeditiously as possible. The department will also be considering, on a case-by-case basis, other close family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have been and continue to be seriously and personally affected by the disaster. All medical and security requirements will be respected.

As announced yesterday by Prime Minister Paul Martin, CIC will also be waiving new application processing fees and the Right of Permanent Resident fee for persons who have been and continue to be seriously and personally affected by the disaster. The Prime Minister also announced that Minister Sgro will be consulting ethnic communities across Canada this week to ensure that all necessary assistance is provided to affected persons.

“I am looking forward to hearing from the communities in Canada who have been affected by this tragedy and identifying what else the Government of Canada can do to help facilitate immigration issues,” added Minister Sgro.

Please visit CIC’s Web site at www.cic.gc.ca for updated information on the services available at visa offices in the most affected areas and on how Canadian citizens and permanent residents can be reunited with their close family members. CIC will also put in place a special email account tsunami@cic.gc.ca and toll-free telephone number 1-800-457-5035 (in Canada only) to respond to questions on the immigration measures announced to help Canadian citizens and permanent residents in the wake of the disaster.

Canadians with good reason to believe that Canadian friends or relatives are in the most affected areas can contact Foreign Affairs Canada’s Emergency Operations Centre at 1-800-606-5499. To get more information on how to help, please visit the Foreign Affairs Canada Web site www.fac.gc.ca.

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For further information (media only):

Sherri Haigh
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(613) 954-1064

Maria Iadinardi
Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
(613) 952-0740