MONTREAL - Canada will stop funding new aid projects in Haiti until Ottawa finds a better way for the struggling nation to help itself, says International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino.

In an interview published Friday in Montreal La Presse, Fantino said he was disappointed at what he considered the lack of progress in Haiti during his November visit to the Caribbean country.

His remarks came just days before the third anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti that killed an estimated 300,000 people and left swaths of the country in ruins.

Fantino indicated that Canada has funnelled $1 billion in development cash to Haiti since 2006 — making it one of the largest foreign donors to the island nation. The former head of the Ontario Provincial Police said his department will continue to fund programs in Haiti that are already underway.

Fantino, who took over the portfolio from Bev Oda last year, said Canadian taxpayers cannot take care of Haiti's problems forever.

Michaelle Jean, Canada's Haitian-born, former governor general, hopes Fantino's funding freeze is truly just a temporary one.

"Often when we say we will freeze (something), it's sometimes a moment when we need to ... refocus," Jean, now a special envoy to Haiti for UNESCO, told The Canadian Press in an interview Friday.

"I hope that is what this means — in all my heart, I hope that's what this means."

She acknowledged that donor countries must rethink how they allocate aid money in Haiti to ensure the long-term rebuilding process there is a success.

Jean would like to see countries like Canada continue to help Haiti reinforce its hobbled government, which she said lost 30 per cent of its civil servants and all but one of its buildings in the January 2010 quake.

"I don't think we wish to break up a relationship as important as the one that exists between Canada and Haiti," she replied when asked about the prospect of Ottawa halting all foreign aid to Haiti.

Fantino also compared Haiti's terrible state with much-better conditions in the neighbouring Dominican Republic. The two nations share the island of Hispaniola.

He remarked about the filth and garbage he saw during his recent visit to Haiti. He wondered how a country with so many unemployed people had not found a way to clean it up.

Jean believes it's hurtful for Haitians to hear comments like this about the condition of the country.

"Where do you want them to find the means to do it?" she said.

"You think it gives them pleasure to live with this garbage? No, not at all. On the other hand, they are overwhelmed."

She added that tasking Haitians with the cleanup would be a good idea, but Haiti lacks the costly infrastructure to collect trash and dispose of it.

"I think Mr. Fantino has a good opportunity, now that he's found the garbage situation shocking," said Jean, noting that the Haitian government is working on a plan to clean up the country.

"Maybe it would be a good idea to help Haiti in waste management."

CIDA's $5-billion annual budget has been frozen until 2015 as part of the federal government's deficit-reducing plan.

In a November telephone call with media during his visit to Haiti, Fantino told reporters that CIDA doesn't exist to fund aid groups indefinitely and his job is to ensure Canadians get value for their overseas-development bucks.

"There's always adjustments being made," he said at the time. "Programs that we enter into are not for life."

The Canadian International Development Agency declined to make Fantino available for an interview Friday. Instead, the department issued a brief statement by email.

"CIDA will continue to offer our support for the people of Haiti in response to their emergency needs should humanitarian crises arise," the statement said.

"We also continue to make progress in areas of long-term development that we have previously committed to."

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • Haiti: Two Years Later

    Photo taken on Jan. 5, 2012, shows the presidential palace of Haiti in Port-au-Prince, still unrepaired since it was damaged by a major earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010. (Kyodo / Landov)

  • Haiti: Two Years Later

    In this picture taken on Jan. 7, 2012, a youth walks inside the earthquake damaged Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. As the hemisphere's poorest country marks the second anniversary of the earthquake that killed some 300,000 people, only about half of the $4.6 billion in promised aid has been spent, half a million people are still living in crowded camps and only four of the 10 largest projects funded by international donors have broken ground. (Dieu Nalio Chery, AP)

  • Haiti: Two Years Later

    In this photo taken Jan. 4, 2012 photo, a man displaced by the 2010 earthquake and offered money to relocate, salvages his belongings after authorities disassembled tents and shut down the camp near the airport, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. More than half a million Haitias are still homeless, and many who have homes are worse off than before the Jan. 12, 2010 quake, as recovery bogs down under a political leadership that has been preoccupied with elections and their messy aftermath. (Dieu Nalio Chery, AP)

  • Haiti: Two Years Later

    In this Jan. 4, 2012 photo, Pirist Dugard, 31, places rock on a tarp covering his tent at a camp set up for people displaced by the 2010 earthquake, in what used to be an airstrip in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Dieu Nalio Chery, AP)

  • Haiti: Two Years Later

    In this picture taken on Jan. 9, 2012, workers stand at the construction site of homes being built for people displaced by the 2010 earthquake on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Dieu Nalio Chery, AP)

  • Haiti: Two Years Later

    A student passes by posters of victims of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake on Jan. 10, 2012 in Petion-ville , a suburb of Port-au-Prince. UN agencies said Tuesday that Haitians face many challenges on the second anniversary of the earthquake that killed more than 200,000 of their people, but those living in camps have dropped dramatically. (Thony Belizaire, AFP / Getty Images)

  • Haiti: Two Years Later

    A Haitian woman waiting for a taxi in Potau-Prince looks at earthquake damage on Jan. 9, 2012. According to the UN some 50 percent of the rubble left by the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake still litters the Haitian capital. (Thony Belizaire, AFP / Getty Images)

  • Haiti: Two Years Later

    Saoudit Augustine, 7, and Clishnaika Pierre, 5, stand in Place de La Paix, an Internally displaced peoples (IDP) camp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which used to be a football field. (Niall Carson, PA)

  • Haiti: Two Years Later

    Construction takes place on new homes being built in Zorange, Haiti, Jan. 4, 2012. (Patrick Farrell Miami Herald / MCT Landov)

  • Haiti: Two Years Later

    Elianette Derilus tucks her prematurely born new baby daughter in the top of her dress in the maternity wing at the General Hospital in Port-au- Prince, Haiti, Jan. 4, 2012. (Patrick Farrell, Miami Herald / MCT / Landov)