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Canadian aid sector responds to Federal Budget 2023

Budget 2023 undermines Canada’s standing in the world, as government backpedals on aid commitment, says coalition of NGOs

Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada has co-signed this press release issued jointly by over 80 aid and advocacy organizations to denounce the cuts to international assistance funding announced in today’s budget. This communiqué was originally released on the Bigger Than Our Borders website.

OTTAWA, March 28, 2023 ― At a time of enormous need globally, the Canadian government has failed to deliver on its promise to increase foreign aid every year. As part of the Federal Budget 2023, the government declined to announce new investments for any international aid programs.

The coalition of over 80 NGOs – representing a wide-range of development, humanitarian, environmental and advocacy groups – said that compared to Budget 2022, the overall international assistance funding was cut by no less than $1.3 billion – a 15% cut. The decision by the government to cut foreign aid comes amidst a world facing multiple crises around climate change, hunger, conflict and an erosion of human rights and democratic values.

“The word of the day is ‘undermine’,” said Kate Higgins, CEO of Cooperation Canada that represents over 95 organizations working on development and humanitarian assistance in countries around the world. “This budget undermines Canada’s standing in the world, it undermines progress on sustainable development, and it undermines our security. At a time when the world faces compounding global crises, Canadians expect their government to commit to bold global leadership. This budget does not deliver on this.”

In recent months, a sustained campaign by the international cooperation sector urged the government to prioritize funding commitments towards programs promoting gender equality, health, education, food security and nutrition, climate adaptation, and social justice.

In a letter to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland in February 2023, more than 75 aid agencies emphasized the importance of foreign aid as a smart investment in global security and prosperity. They called on the government to commit to a predictable, three-year increase to reach $10 billion by 2025. Budget 2023 is lacking that clarity and predictability on how the government will be increasing its foreign aid envelope annually.

Elise Legault of the ONE Campaign added: “Canada has been there for Ukraine, but we are now letting other countries down. Canada’s commitments in today’s budget not only fail to meet this call but actively threaten progress as we know it. We made a promise to the world to increase international assistance every year, and instead there is a 15% cut in the middle of an unprecedented food crisis and countries crumbling under the effects of climate change. This isn’t the leadership that Canadians or the world expects.”

The coalition said they are hopeful that more funds will come later in the year, as this budget blatantly failed to announce new investments. For example, the government indicated its intentions to renew its historic investments for girls education globally made at the G7 in Charlevoix in 2018. Without that renewed investment, four million girls and young women around the world are left with an uncertain future as Canadian-supported education projects will end in the coming months.

“Canada has been a champion of women’s and girls’ rights, but the Feminist International Assistance Policy is an empty promise if Canada fails to back it with concrete actions and resources,” says Julia Anderson of CanWaCH, a coalition of organizations working on women’s and children’s health and rights. “At a time when the world is calling on Canada to step up and deliver on the vision and leadership it promised, this government chose to step down.”

Contact Information:

  • Louis Belanger – Bigger than our Borders – 613-265-4417
  • Sabrina Grover – One Campaign – 403-614-6498
  • Gabriel Karsz-Perriau – Cooperation Canada – 514-945-0309
  • Charmaine Crockett – CanWaCH – 613-863-9489

Note: The coalition of aid agencies represent a broad group of civil society organizations working in the field of advocacy, education, economic development, women and children’s health, sustainable livelihoods and food and water security, nutrition, gender equality and human rights. The group includes:

  • Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
  • Action Against Hunger
  • Alternatives
  • Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)
  • AidWatch Canada
  • Alberta Council for Global Cooperation
  • Atlantic Council for International Cooperation
  • Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI)
  • Bigger Than Our Borders
  • Bright Hope for Tomorrow
  • British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC)
  • CAMFED Canada
  • Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID)
  • Canadian Feed the Children
  • Canadian Foodgrains Bank
  • Canadian Lutheran World Relief
  • Canadian Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases
  • Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health
  • Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
  • CARE Canada
  • Centre d’étude et de coopération internationale (CECI)
  • Children Believe
  • Coady Institute
  • Collaboration Santé International
  • Cooperation Canada
  • Cooperative Development Foundation of Canada
  • Crossroads International
  • Cuso International
  • Développement international Desjardins (DID)
  • Development and Peace-Caritas Canada
  • Dignity Network Canada
  • Egale Canada
  • Engineers Without Borders Canada
  • Equality Fund
  • Equitas – International Centre for Human Rights Education
  • Farm Radio International
  • Fondation Paul Gérin-Lajoie
  • Food for the Hungry Canada
  • Global Citizen
  • Global Disciples Canada
  • Grandmothers Advocacy Network
  • Human Concern International
  • Humanité & Inclusion
  • Hungry For Life International
  • iDE Canada
  • Inter Pares
  • International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO)
  • Islamic Relief Canada
  • Jane Goodall Institute of Canada
  • KAIROS Canada
  • Kentro Christian Network
  • Lawyers Without Borders CanaAda
  • Manitoba Council for International Cooperation
  • Médecins du Monde Canada
  • Medical Herstory
  • Mennonite Central Committee Canada
  • Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)
  • Mission inclusion
  • Never Again International – Canada
  • Northern Council for Global Cooperation
  • ONE Canada
  • Ontario Council for International Cooperation
  • Opportunity International Canada
  • Oxfam Canada
  • Oxfam-Québec
  • Partners In Health Canada
  • Plan International Canada
  • Presbyterian World Service & Development
  • Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund
  • Right To Play International
  • Results Canada
  • Salanga
  • Santé Monde
  • Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation
  • Save the Children
  • SeedChange
  • SOS Children’s Villages Canada
  • SUCO
  • Tearfund Canada
  • The United Church of Canada
  • Unité de santé internationale de l’Université de Montréal
  • UPA Développement international
  • Veterinarians without Borders Canada
  • WaterAid Canada
  • War Child Canada
  • The Wellspring Foundation for Education
  • World Accord
  • World Hope International (Canada)
  • World Renew
  • World Wide Hearing
  • World University Service of Canada
  • World Vision Canada

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