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Canada and PH: A true partnership

/ 04:03 AM December 01, 2020

As we today mark the 71st anniversary of diplomatic relations being established between Canada and the Philippines, we are reminded of how much our two countries’ relationship has blossomed. Indeed, by now we have reached the stage at which we can consider Dec. 1 as Philippines-Canada Partnership Day.

On this day each year, we celebrate the dynamism of our relationship. Canada is fortunate to be built on cultural diversity — by the flow of peoples from all corners of the globe—including those welcomed from this beautiful archipelago. There are now approximately 1 million Canadians of Filipino origin, one of our fastest-growing diaspora communities, fortifying active people-to-people links.

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This year by September, almost 9,000 Filipinos were admitted as permanent residents in Canada. We have processed applications for thousands of temporary workers and international students. Canada continues to welcome eligible temporary foreign workers. We also embrace international students who have valid study permits for our colleges and universities. Filipino seafarers have been allowed to rotate into

and out of Canada throughout the pandemic. These essential staff provide much needed income flows to families while maintaining essential international supply lines we all count on.

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Canada is one of the top countries that continues to send remittances to the Philippines even during the pandemic. Temporary foreign workers have been included in the Canada Emergency Response Benefit made available as an income replacement to those displaced from work by the pandemic.

Canada is known for a tradition of helping others—a Canadian version of the Philippines’ bayanihan. In that spirit, we continue to contribute to relief efforts. Humanitarian aid of P10 million was recently provided to the Red Cross for emergency typhoon-related assistance. Longer term, Canadian climate finance to counter extreme weather is also available through multilateral channels.

To help the Philippines combat COVID-19, Canada has donated 120,000 N95 respirator masks to the Department of Health, topped up by P84.6 million existing projects that help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on women’s reproductive health.

Globally, Canada has pledged $191 million to GAVI, as a COVID-19 Vaccines Advance Market Commitment. This will ensure that the Philippines can access safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. During last month’s G20 Summit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau again called for equitable access by all to pending COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. Several Canadian biotech firms are among those working globally on possible vaccine candidates.

Our two countries share common priorities. As a significant coastal country like the Philippines, Canada is committed to an international rules-based order governing the global commons, in particular the oceans and seas. International law such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides the foundation upon which peaceful relations among states are built. Promoting reliance on international law to peacefully resolve complex problems underpins Canadian foreign policy. This position was recently reiterated by Canada’s Minister of National Defence.

Canada’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Trade continue to meet with their Filipino counterparts, most recently at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings where Canada highlighted the importance of a strong multilateral trading system supported by coordinated, sustainable, and inclusive economic policies. In this context, we congratulate the Philippines as one of the signatories of the landmark Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement.

Throughout the years, we have seen the growth in mutually advantageous trade and investment flows translate into more jobs in each country. There remains more room to grow business. Last month, Prime Minister Trudeau raised with Asean leaders Canada’s interest in launching FTA negotiations with Asean. What better added component to a mutually beneficial post-pandemic economic recovery strategy?

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The challenges of the new normal open up such new opportunities to further enhance our countries’ win-win cooperation. Working together, we can raise our relationship to a higher level, reflecting our true partnership among old friends.

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Peter MacArthur is Canada’s ambassador to the Philippines.

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TAGS: Commentary, Peter MacArthur, PH-Canada relations
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