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Canada to help T&T in health sector expansion
Visiting Canadian Governor General David Johnston was moved to compose his first extempo calypso yesterday, after hearing the real thing performed by Black Sage and Lady Africa. It was at a luncheon hosted by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s that Johnston composed his extempo, which he recited at the podium minutes later:
“You teach us to sing with joyful hearts
You compose and celebrate T&T culture and the arts
We can’t take that to the World Bank
But it stands in first-class rank.”
Among the audience were Hasely Crawford, who won T&T’s only Olympic gold medal in Montreal, Canada in 1976; Miss Universe 1977, Janelle Commissiong-Chow; Miss World 1986, Giselle La Ronde-West; Miss Universe 1998, Wendy Fitzwilliam; and world record holder for the highest Test score, Brian Lara; Canadian High Commissioner in Port-of-Spain, Karen Mc Donald; and several Cabinet ministers.
Canada and T&T signed two bilateral agreements earlier at the same venue. They were:
• The framework arrangement in the health sector, which would assist in the expansion and modernisation of T&T’s health-sector facilities
• MOU on the collection of information and expertise between the prison services in Canada and T&T.
He said relations between T&T and Canada were very strong, noting that Canada was among the first three nations to recognise T&T as an independent state in 1962. He said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar was “admired so much” especially for her leadership “on the world front on women’s and children’s issues.” He said there were over 100,000 T&T nationals living in Canada and 6,000 expatriate Canadians living in T&T.
He said Canada was interested in co-operating in security matters, including policing and judicial matters. “We are working together to improve security in Trinidad and Tobago in several important respects,” he said, adding that he hoped to learn more about the security collaboration during his visit.
The two nations are also expected to address the issue of corporate social responsibility and will also co-operate in the fields of arts and culture. Persad-Bissessar, in her address, said the T&T High Commission in Canada is compiling a book on distinguished nationals of T&T in Canada. She said the book will “highlight the significant contribution of nationals of T&T to Canada in the fields of business, politics, medicine, education, media, literature, sports and community life.”
Persad-Bissessar said Cabinet last week agreed to host the regional office for the implementation of Canada’s Caribbean Local Economic Development Programme. “This six-year project, funded by CIDA will serve to boost economic growth in the region,” she said.
Moves were now afoot for T&T nationals to accept jobs being offered in the energy sector in Canada, she said, adding that she had been advised of some 300 vacancies for which this country has “a combination of skilled labourers who can fill these vacancies in Alberta,” she added.
She said T&T looks forward to collaboration with Canada in finding “a suitable technology to explore and develop our own heavy oil resources.” Persad-Bissessar said the two countries were engaged in negotiation to allow for business operations with suitable Canadian service providers. She said T&T was committed to improving the public service and as a consequence would seek assistance from Canada to achieve that objective.
An MOU on public-sector modernisation is expected to be signed shortly between the Public Administration Ministry and a Canadian commercial corporation.
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