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Bringing international aid to the leadership debates

October 7, 2019

By Janice Biehn

PWRDF has added its name to a letter from the Canadian Council of International Cooperation (CCIC) addressed to the Leaders’ Debates Commissioner, the Right Honourable David Johnston. The letter is advocating Canada’s foreign policy and international development efforts be addressed in the political leaders’ debates this week. (The English debate is October 7, the French debate is October 10.)

“Canadian aid has improved maternal and child health, brought clean water to communities and empowered girls and women so that they can go to school, earn an income and even create jobs. Canadian aid reflects our compassion and desire for a more just world, which is good for all of us,” says Will Postma, Executive Director of PWRDF.

PWRDF is a member of CCIC, as well as the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH), who commissioned a survey with Nanos about Canadians’ attitudes to international aid. The letter cites these findings:

  • 71% of Canadians agree we have a moral obligation to help people in developing countries.
  • 90% see international aid as contributing to greater global stability and peace.
  • 90% agree that when developing countries are stable places to work and live, we all benefit.
  • 81% agree that Canada should do its fair share to help other countries.

Yet Canadians also think we spend far more on international assistance than we actually do. Canada’s current Official Development Assistance (ODA) is .28% of our Gross National Income (GNI), at a near all-time low, below the average of .31% for other countries in the OECD. This reflects a 20-year downward trend. ODA includes both emergency humanitarian assistance and longer-term development cooperation. About 15% of Canada’s ODA is humanitarian aid, responding to urgent disasters around the world.

The globally agreed target for ODA is .7% of GNI. ODA cannot, by definition, be given to Upper Income countries. Most of the countries (14) where PWRDF partners work are classified as Least Developed Countries. PWRDF also supports programming in Zimbabwe, (a Low Income country with a per capita GNI of less than $1,005 in 2016); Egypt, Guatemala and Kenya (Lower Middle Income countries with a GNI of $1,006-$3,995) and Cuba, Peru and Mexico (Upper Middle Income countries with a GNI of $3,956-$12,235).

“ODA is not partisan,” says Nicolas Moyer, CEO of CCIC. “Whichever party wins the coming federal elections, Canada can and must do more to defend and embody Canadian values. It’s only fair. And it’s also smart. A fairer, more sustainable, and safer world is one in which Canada can maximize its global influence and impact. It is also a world in which Canadians and Canadian businesses can prosper.”

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For media requests please contact Communications Coordinator Janice Biehn at (416) 924-9199;366.

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