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Canada Solidly At The Bottom Of The Pack Despite Government Commitments To Increase Spending In Foreign Aid

News Release

April 26, 2001
For immediate release

Canada is among the least generous donor countries in the world according to recently released figures complied by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Canada’s ODA to GNP performance ranks us 17th in 2000 among 22 aid donors, down from 12th in 1999 and 6th in 1995.

"I think we have reached the point where Canada no longer has the moral authority to push other nations into more generous aid policies," says Gerry Barr President and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. "We have to start telling the truth about ourselves. And the truth is that we are one of the least generous donor nations on the planet."

With Official Development Assistance (ODA) measured as a percentage of Gross National Product (GNP) at only 0.25% Canada is ahead of Spain, Italy, Greece, Austria and the United States in terms of generosity, but well behind the most generous countries (Denmark, Netherlands Sweden). Also troubling is that we are far back of the average donor performance of 0.39%.

In the Speech from the Throne this January the Government stated that it would "increase Canada’s Official Development Assistance and use these new investments to advance efforts to reduce international poverty and to strengthen democracy, justice and social stability worldwide."

Unfortunately, Canada’s track record, despite the rhetoric is not encouraging. "Last week in Quebec City, Canadian parliamentary leaders were talking about lifting the hemisphere out of poverty - today we are one of the lowball players in the international aid world," says Barr.

While the government has made small increases to Canada’s aid budget, these increase have not kept pace with the unexpectedly high growth in the Canadian economy. Because of this we are decreasing in terms of generosity. The ODA/GNP ratio allows us to measure aid effort and compare the generosity level of countries of different sizes.

Despite assurances from the government that Canada is still committed to reaching the internationally agreed-to target of 0.7% of GNP, we are moving in the opposite direction. In fact the G7 countries, according to the OECD report, are among the worst aid performers. The richest countries have clearly turned their backs on the world’s poor.

For more information see attached background paper.

Katia Gianneschi, Media Relations
Canadian Council for Interantional Co-operation
Tel.: (613) 241-7007 ext. 311

Background Paper

The Development Assistance Committee (OECD) Releases Preliminary Official Development Assistance Figures for 2000

For the second year running, Canadian aid in real US dollar terms (removing the effect of inflation and exchange rate changes) fell by 2.2% in 2000, after falling by 1.9% in 1999.

Canada is now firmly placed in the bottom third of aid donors, with Canada’s ODA to GNP performance ranking 17th in 2000 among the 22 aid donors, down from 12th in 1999 and 6th in 1995. The least generous aid disbursing countries below Canada are the United States (0.10%), Spain (0.24%), Italy (0.13%), Greece (0.19%), and Austria (0.25%).

For calendar year 2000 Canada estimated our aid to be US$1,722 million, with an ODA to GNP ratio of 0.25%, compared to 0.28% in 1999. In part as a result of unexpectedly high growth in the Canadian economy in 2000, this international measure of Canada’s generosity in sharing our wealth with developing countries is at a level of aid generosity unprecedented since the mid-1960s, the formative years for Canadian aid programming.

While the government has made small incremental increases to Canada’s aid budgets in the past few years, these have not kept pace with the growth of the Canadian economy. New resources for meeting our commitments to international development targets that we support on the international stage have been far removed from what has been necessary to return Canadian aid performance to even the average donor performance (0.39%), reneging on the Prime Minister’s commitment to rebuild Canada’s international reputation and role in international cooperation.

Canada has had one of the strongest records of economic growth among the OECD. Other countries, often in less favourable fiscal circumstances, have been able to find the resources to substantially increase their aid programs - the UK aid program grew by 35.6% in 2000, Belgium by 21.7%, the Netherlands by 10.0% and Sweden by 22.3%.

In terms of generosity, Denmark (1.06%), Netherlands (0.82%), Sweden (0.81), Norway (0.80) and Luxembourg (0.7%) all reach or exceed the UN target of 0.7% of GNP.

The G7 countries are among the worst aid performers, reaching a low of 0.19% of their collective ODA. In contrast, non-G7 countries give 0.46% of their GNP to their aid efforts.

Overall, aid from OECD countries fell by 1.6% in 2000 to US$53.1 billion from $56.4 billion in 1999. This is the result of a number of factors. Japanese aid fell by more than $2 billion in 2000 as a result of exceptional contributions in 1999 to the Asia Development Bank in the wake of the Asia financial crisis. French aid also fell for technical reasons, due to a change in DAC rule where aid to French protectorates can no longer be included in French ODA.

Brian Tomlinson
Policy Analyst
Canadian Council for International Co-operation


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