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Meeting Our Global Commitments: Rebuilding Canadian Aid to Tackle Poverty

(Disponible en anglais seulement)

CCIC ELECTION 2000 Backgrounder

Key Messages and Recommendations

Canada must meet its global commitments and responsibilities by:

  1. Rebuilding Canadian Official Development Assistance (ODA)

The Government must devote an additional $350 million in the 2001 Budget for the International Assistance Envelope (IAE) and make a commitment to achieve an ODA target of 0.35% of Canada’s GNP by 2005-06, en route to the UN target of 0.7%.

  1. Improving the quality of Canadian OD

Improve the quality of Canadian ODA by placing CIDA’s important social development priorities within a strategic framework that focuses all CIDA programming resources on the goal of poverty reduction.

  1. Accelerating debt cancellation for the poorest countries

Canada must continue its leadership on debt reduction through intense lobbying of G7 colleagues to act on new and innovative proposals to accelerate and achieve 100% debt cancellation for the poorest countries.

  1. Engaging Canadians on global issues

CIDA must significantly increase resources for long-term programs based on its strategy for public education and engagement.

Our Global Commitments

  1. At the July 2000 meeting of the G8, Prime Minister Chrétien challenged rich countries to address the growing gap between the rich and poor by increasing their aid budgets by up to 10%.
  2. At the September "2000 Millennial Special Session" of the United Nations, Canada re-affirmed our commitment to contribute to reducing global poverty by half by the year 2015 and to International Development Targets for universal access to primary schools, gender equality, significant reductions in infant and child mortality rates, and national strategies for sustainable development.
  3. In September 2000, International Cooperation Minister Maria Minna set out a bold new Framework for Action to significantly increase the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) social sector programming in four key areas – basic education, health and nutrition, HIV/AIDS and the protection of children – which are all vital areas for an improved focus on poverty in Canada’s aid program.
  4. At the Prague fall meetings of the World Bank and the (International Monetary Fund (IMF), Finance Minister Paul Martin called on creditor nations to accelerate debt cancellation for the poorest countries with an immediate moratorium on debt service payments by these countries. The proposed moratorium has no conditions attached. Minister Martin called for reduced conditions for multilateral debt relief that take into account the challenges of poverty reduction in the poorest countries.

Meeting These Challenges

  1. Improve Canada’s international generosity by re-building funding to Canadian ODA

    An additional $350 million for the IAE in the 2001 Budget is a first step in rebuilding the aid resources that were so deeply cut in the 1990s.

    Will the government commit to a long-term plan to rebuild our ODA to 0.35% of Canada’s GNP by 2005-06, en route to the UN target of 0.7%?

    Despite an increase of more than $100 million to the IAE in Budget 2000, the measure of Canadian generosity in our ODA still dropped to 0.26% of our GNP in 2000-01, another 30-year low. With a growing economy, only significant additions to Canadian ODA that exceed economic growth will reverse this declining generosity (which has dropped from 0.49% in 1992-93). The federal budget surplus for 2001-02 is expected to be $18 billion. An increase of $350 million is just 2 cents out of every dollar of the expected surplus.
  2. Improve and protect the poverty focus for Canadian ODA

    Improving the quality of Canadian ODA requires a strategic framework that focuses all CIDA programming resources on the goal of poverty reduction and places the Minister’s important social development priorities within this framework.

    Minister Minna’s recent Social Development Priorities: A Framework for Action emphasizes that "the primary goal of the Canadian International Development Agency is to reduce poverty". The Framework demonstrates new political leadership in its plan for a substantial shift of CIDA resources towards social programming that targets the poor and vulnerable people in the poorest countries. It focuses on basic education, health and nutrition, HIV/AIDS and the protection of children. But its implementation also requires attention to a strategic framework for poverty reduction:
  • The lived experience of poverty is multi-dimensional and requires measures that support sustainable livelihoods, gender equality and the natural ecosystems that support life for poor people. CCIC is seeking a CIDA framework for poverty reduction that directs at least 60% of programming to directly improve the conditions and rights of people living in poverty.
  • It is essential to use a "poverty lens" in developing social sector "action plans" and to guide choices as CIDA program funds are reallocated during the next five years to meet the disbursement targets for these four social sector priorities.
  • Targeting our aid to where it is most needed for poverty reduction will imply for example reversing the deep cuts to CIDA programming for food security and agriculture, emphasizing aid to Sub-Saharan Africa, and favouring multilateral institutions with a poverty focus (like UNICEF and UNDP).
  • Making progress on new approaches to reduce conditionality in Canadian aid and respect Southern ownership will assure success in achieving our poverty reduction goals. This should also including a significant reduction in tying Canadian aid to Canadian commercial interests.
  1. Continue international leadership to cancel the debt of the poorest countries

    The Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister must continue to take every opportunity with G7 colleagues to secure support for new and innovative proposals to accelerate and achieve 100% debt cancellation for the poorest countries. At the most strategic moment for leveraging impact, Canada must lead by example and declare an immediate unilateral and unconditional moratorium on the debt payments these countries owe to Canada.

    The Canadian Government must also ensure that the funds set aside for debt cancellation in the 2001 Budget are additional to the $350 million increase to the IAE for ODA (consistent with the practice of Budget 2000).

    In Tanzania, 50% of the population lives below the poverty line. Yet debt servicing sent to the rich creditors in the North absorbs one third of that country’s entire government budget – four times its spending on primary education and nine times the spending on primary health care.

    Canada must continue to show leadership in pressing for improved terms for full cancellation of unpayable debt owed by the 50 poorest countries (on the Jubilee 2000 list) to Northern creditor governments, the World Bank and the IMF. Canada must also ensure that debt cancellation is not linked to stringent structural adjustment measures that only serve to increase poverty.
  2. Engage Canadians on global issues

    Significant increases in CIDA resources (devoting at least 2.5% of CIDA programming resources) are required to support innovative long term programming to engage Canadians on global issues and implement CIDA’s strategy for public education and engagement.

    Polling indicates that a strong majority of Canadians support international aid. A May 2000 Earnscliffe poll revealed that 66% of Canadians thought that we were spending either the right amount or not enough on aid. When told the actual expenditure, this percentage increased to 73%.

    Nevertheless the conviction of Canadians’ support for international cooperation remains weak as they rank, for example, increases in the aid budget almost last when placed against almost any other domestic priority. CIDA and Canadian NGOs have a primary responsibility to engage Canadians on global issues and highlight our ethical responsibilities as global citizens. Canada cannot be prosperous in a world where two-thirds of the world’s people live in poverty and are excluded from the benefits of the global economy.

    In November 1999, NGOs welcomed CIDA’s long-awaited public engagement strategy and are currently involved with CIDA on determining the means to implement the strategy. While resources are essential, NGOs are also seeking a broad approach to global citizenship that is inclusive of issues such as debt, the environment, trade and globalization, as well as support for Canadian international assistance.

For more facts and information on these four aid policy areas, please consult Renewing Canadian Aid: An in common CCIC Fact Sheet, October 2000, available on CCIC’s web sites

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