Tashi Dema

 A new Canada fund for local initiatives, worth about Nu 1 million, would be released to provide vocational training for about 100 Bhutanese youth with disabilities in eastern Bhutan.

The Canadian ambassador to Bhutan in New Delhi, Nadir Patel, said the fund is one of the many projects that Canada funded in the past years for people living with disabilities.

Called ‘Enhancing the life skills of people with disabilities’, the project is to develop vocational skills and provide nutritional support to 106 children and youth with disabilities.

The ambassador, who was in Thimphu to attend the first biennial consultations, said Canadian institutions are keen to contribute to Bhutan’s objective of reforming technical and vocational education and training (TVET).

He explained that Canada has many colleges that focuses on technical and vocational skills. “We would work with the labour ministry and provide our experiences and best practices in TVET that could go into the reforms taking place here.”

Ambassador Nadir Patel also said the TVET graduates here could explore job opportunities in Canada as some of the technical skills are in demand there. “There could be collaboration between the TVET institutes here and the colleges and institutes in Canada.”

He also said they are funding initiatives for responsible and sustainable mining in Bhutan, as Canada has one of the best eco-systems in the world. “We have provided some funding for capacity building.”

The ambassador said Canada sent some organic certificate experts to Bhutan a month ago to work with the ministry of agriculture. “We understand that it is more important to have many small initiatives than having one big area, as it would benefit more people.”

Ambassador Nadir Patel said that Canada would launch biometrics collection in Bhutan on a pilot basis beginning the first half of 2020 to enhance education and employment opportunities for Bhutanese in Canada.

He said they would bring biometrics in Bhutan two to three times a year and visa applicants could avail the facility. “It will make things easier and more convenient for the visa applicants.”



Meanwhile, according to the ambassador, Canada is looking forward to increasing number of Bhutanese students studying in Canada through both private funding and scholarships.

The students and their spouse could work, which could solve the unemployment problem here. “The students could bring back the expertise.” About 60 Bhutanese students availed visas to study in Canada in 2018.

Ambassador Nadir Patel said he looks forward to taking the already-strong relationship between Bhutan and Canada to new heights as a result of the fruitful consultations, which have yielded exciting new opportunities for cooperation between the two countries.

The director general of Global Affairs Canada for South Asia Bureau, David Hartman, said he is delighted to be a part of the first-ever bilateral consultations between Canada and Bhutan. He said it will look forward to an action plan for joint follow-up, which will pave the way for an exciting new chapter in the Canada-Bhutan relationship.

Ambassador Nadir Patel, who will be exiting from the role in the coming months after five years, said his visit this time to Bhutan was to take stock of the long history of collaboration, explore a road map for new areas of collaboration and to ensure that the ministry to ministry relationship between the two countries is built and strengthened.

“We have accomplished those things,” he said.

He said that as ambassadors, they come and go but the ministry to ministry relationship should be there so that they continue to work together  despite the changes in the ambassadors.