Just a week before the third anniversary of the catastrophic Port-au-Prince earthquake, International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino announced that Canada is freezing aid to Haiti.
While CIDA reportedly denied that a freeze was in place, Haitian and UN officials (including Michaëlle Jean) have treated it as a fact. Whatever Fantino intended, he's caused confusion and alarm. The situation in Haiti has been terrible for decades, and the minister's remarks have only made it worse.
How terrible? In mid-December, the British medical journal The Lancet published a whole issue dedicated to one subject: the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. In discussing the healthy life expectancy for 187 countries, it made a passing reference to Haiti: A baby boy born in 1990 could expect, on average, 44.9 years of healthy life, and an overall life expectancy of 53.3 years.
That's pretty grim; a Canadian male born that year can expect almost 64 years of good health and a total life expectancy of 74. But it's worse now: Twenty years later, a Haitian male born in 2010 has a total life expectancy 12 years shorter: 32.5 years, with only 27.9 years of reasonable health. This, the authors say, is due to the effect of the earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010, which killed hundreds of thousands of Haitians.
That appalling statistic has, I suspect, more causes than a simple earthquake. Jan. 12, 2010 was largely a human-made disaster, and among the collaborators were the governments of Canada and the United States -- indeed, through the UN, the whole world has helped to wreck the country.