A Call to Increase Foreign Aid in Budget 2019

Joint statement to Prime Minister Trudeau following OECD peer review

With efforts to finance the SDGs becoming a top global priority, the OECD-DAC released its Peer Review of Canada’s development co-operation efforts as part of its rotating five-year review of member countries, and the message was clear – Canada is not doing its share when it comes to official development assistance (ODA).

The report echoes what many in the Canadian development sector have been saying for a decade – that Canada’s ODA is the lowest it has been in a generation and that Canada should do more. Currently, our aid level is not only far below the globally agreed target of 0.7 per cent of GNI, but at 0.26 per cent, it is also lower than the average aid levels of OECD donors. The report underlines that the government needs to increase its commitments in order “to add weight to Canada’s global advocacy role.” Furthermore, the report recommends that “Canada should introduce an ambitious target for increasing its share of ODA in gross national income and set out a path to meet the target, in line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Despite this failing grade, on September 24 Prime Minister Trudeau will deliver the keynote speech at a special session on financing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) hosted by the UN Secretary-General. Reports suggest that the Prime Minister will use his address to highlight Canada’s commitment to help finance the SDGs by unlocking private sector money.

While private sector resourcing is part of the solution – it does not substitute ODA.  Canadian aid contributes to lives saved, fuels opportunity, contributes to equality and results in real impact in the least developed countries and in fragile contexts, and is an essential for achieving Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.

Canadian aid contributions directly reflect the values of ordinary Canadians and represent the role our country plays in the world. As an election year approaches, it is important to consider that according to a recent a CanWaCH report 67% of Canadians believe that it is our responsibility to help others around the world, and 64% agree that we have a duty to support the improvement of health, education and economic opportunity for the world’s poorest people. Canada’s current contribution to foreign aid does not reflect the sentiments of Canadian voters.

Canada has historically always supported multilateralism and international cooperation. It is time we match our good intentions with clear action. In the next federal budget, the Government of Canada should commit to a 10-year timetable of predictable annual increases to Official Development Assistance to reach the global benchmark of 0.7% GNI. We must play our part in supporting the world to deliver on the bold ambitions of the 2030 Agenda.


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