Is Canada doing its part to fight the pandemic? A global and historic perspective

Justin Trudeau has expressed a commitment to leading on the global response to the pandemic. We are proud of our government for wanting to do the right thing.  While EWB applauds recent funding announcements, a close look at the data shows that our actions fall short of what the world needs from Canada. We are not living in normal times, and a normal response is not enough: The pandemic is global, our view must be global.

Every day on our shared planet, millions face hardships, extreme weather, wildfires, poverty, conflicts, discrimination, and inequalities – said our Governor General. And now we face a single common enemy. To overcome this pandemic we require the work and resolve of every government, every community, and of each one of us. 

Is Canada doing its part, globally, to address the pandemic?

Prime Minister Trudeau recently announced new funding for the COVID19 global response. Canada committed $220m to the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) and $400m for humanitarian aid. The two announcements build on $850 million pledged back in April to fight the pandemic. This is good policy. As Canadians, we can certainly feel good about our intentions. Our leaders’ actions reflect our values. We are making a difference. Still, when history is written they won’t ask if we did something – but whether we did enough

Funding announcements have rung since the beginning of March and at times it is hard to gauge what our actual contribution has been to date versus what has been said.  Thankfully, the Canadian International Development Platform (CIDP) did the hard work of tracking every single dollar committed to the pandemic response. 

The result? Canada’s actual international commitments to COVID response to date total just above $1.1 billion. 

For perspective, Canada typically contributes 5% of global fundraising efforts. This has been consistent across many global disasters across many decades. For the immediate response to the pandemic, 5% would represent about $2 billion –  and that’s before funding for economic recovery. What we might need to devise is a new Marshall Plan for the developing world. It would see economies restarted, investments flow, and new economic and diversified trade partnerships emerge. We have contributed a total of $1.1B thus far. 

Are we ready to give another $1B at this time? Are we also ready to double down on investments and partnership for economic recovery? At this moment, when the whole world is reeling – will we rise up to our responsibility? Will we contribute courageously, even as our own budget is affected? 

EWB Canada certainly hopes so. 

Future generations will ask not whether we did something, but whether we did enough. I hope that we will all be able to look at our grandchildren, hold our heads up high and say proudly that during this global turn of events, Canadians were there to help our fellow human beings. 

When PM Justin Trudeau says that more aid ought to be coming, we couldn’t agree more. We know just how much the minimum is: $900 million immediately for the pandemic response and a few billion more in economic recovery funding. That is the minimum. Ultimately history will be the judge as to whether it was enough.

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