Newsflash: Federal Budget 2017 is out this week! Here’s why you should obsessively pay attention to it

This is a big week! (And not because Chuck Berry passed away, though we’re really sad about that…) The Federal Government is releasing its 2017 Budget this Wednesday, and we’re giving you a heads up about what this means for international development and EWB’s advocacy work.

What is the Federal Budget?

The Federal Budget essentially determines how the government’s financial resources are allocated, which then determines how much can be accomplished in a given sector. Things like infrastructure and public health spending tend to get the bulk of the budget and with just cause.

What’s going to get the big $$$?

We’ve heard from the government that this budget is set to focus on innovation—investing in programs and policies that encourage R&D, foster technical skills development for Canadians, and attract talent and investment from abroad.

Things like foreign aid, on the other hand, are considered discretionary spending—or spending that isn’t necessarily guaranteed any budget at all. This is why so many of our campaigning efforts are centred around the budget, because there are no guarantees that Canada will continue to contribute to global sustainable development.

What will EWB be on the look-out for?

EWB has long advocated for spending increases specifically to official development assistance (ODA)aid that is focused on sustainable economic development in lower income countries.

While we don’t expect cuts to current levels of spending on the international assistance envelope (which includes foreign aid that contributes to long-term economic growth as well as humanitarian aid to help respond to international disasters and emergencies), we also know that Canada has fallen behind in its international assistance spending levels compared to its G7 partners, and we would be surprised if there were increases that put us on par with those partners.

While ODA increases have been a major focus for our advocacy work, we’ve also advocated for policies and tools that aim to improve aid effectiveness.

  • We were one of the first voices to urge our government to untie aid in 2004.
  • We spent over three years building support for the Better Aid Bill (Bill C-293), which was passed in 2008.
  • We worked to inform and engage Canadians about the importance of transparent aid, which culminated in a victory when the Canadian International Development Agency (now the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development) became the 23rd signatory to the International Aid Transparency Initiative in 2011.

Since then, our efforts promoting the creation of a Canadian Development Finance Initiative (DFI) were successful with $300 million dollars allocated over 5 years in Federal Budget 2015. While we were thrilled with this policy win, we have since been advocating for the DFI’s operationalization, since it currently exists only on paper.


As engaged citizens, the Budget release is a huge day for all of us and we need to obsessively pay attention to this. Because this is when we learn what the government’s priorities and values really are and whether they line up with your priorities and values. Many of you have joined in our campaign efforts and we thank you for all your support to improving Canada’s international development work. You can rest assured that our team will be watching closely this Wednesday. We will issue our take on what’s in (and not in) the budget as soon as our policy folks comb through it. We’ll also have in-depth policy analysis and more stories in the days to follow.  

So stay tuned at this week for more on Budget 2017!

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