NEWS

Visas not given to relatives of Quebecer in Philippines after typhoon

01/03/2015 07:00 EST | Updated 03/05/2015 05:59 EST
A man on Quebec's Lower North Shore says despite Canada's promise to help Filipinos leave the country after the deadly typhoon in 2013, 14 members of his extended family were never able to obtain a Canadian visa.

Gary Landry says his wife's family was stranded after Typhoon Haiyan destroyed their home in the city of Tacloban in November 2013 and killed and more than 6,000 people.    

He says the Canadian government promised a lot at the time, but never delivered.

Landry moved back to his hometown of Blanc-Sablon after meeting and marrying his wife Sheila Anne de Guzman in the Philippines.    

She was about to visit her family in Tacloban when Typhoon Haiyan swept through the region.    

Fourteen members of his extended family between the ages of four months and 77 years headed to the Canadian embassy in Manila, the country's capital.

"We spent a fortune in Manila for them to stay and have an apartment up there, for I don't know how many months," said Landry.    

Landry hoped they could get a Canadian visa and fly to Blanc-Sablon.

At the time, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said Canada was opening up a program to bring hundreds of Filipinos to Canada.

"We want Canadians and friends and family of those who may be affected and may have been on their way to Canada anyway, to help us identify these cases," said Alexander.

Limited contact with Immigration Canada 

Landry says contact with Immigration Canada on the ground in Manila — and here in Canada — was limited to a web link, and a voicemail service.

"We spoke to many many Filipinos and nobody got their passports to go to Canada," said Landry.

Landry says his family has since split up and had to move to different regions of the Philippines.

In an email, Immigration Canada said 1,600 people from the Philippines were admitted under the special measure.

This includes applications for permanent residents that had been filed before the typhoon hit.

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