The Canadian government is fast-tracking immigration and visa applications for Philippines citizens affected by Typhoon Ketsana, it has emerged.
According to Jason Kenney, Canadian immigration minister, the measures apply to new and existing applications from Canadian citizens, permanent residents and protected individuals who have close family members in the Philippines.
It is believed around 330,000 Canadians trace their roots to the Philippines, representing Canada's third largest ethnic minority. Last weekend, Ketsana killed nearly 300 people in the country and officials are bracing themselves for a second disaster this weekend.
Kenney urged anyone applying for temporary residence in Canada who wants priority processing to clearly mark their envelope "Phillippines".
"I would like to express my deepest sympathy and support for the people of the Philippines affected by this terrible disaster," he added.
"This government is moving quickly to reunite Canadians and permanent residents with their families by extending a welcome to those who wish to come to Canada."
Sponsors and applicants currently living in Canada who have applications in process are being advised to notify the Citizenship and Immigration Canada call centre if they or the family they have sponsored have been adversely affected by the disaster.