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 90 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.”
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.
Step 1: Take to social media and express your disappointment in #Budget2023 and how it did not #KeepThePromise.
At a time of enormous need globally, the Canadian government has failed to #KeepThePromise to deliver an increase foreign aid. As a Canadian, I feel let down by #Budget2023 and will continue to advocate for what is right @JustinTrudeau @cafreeland @HarjitSajjan #cdnpoli
I’m deeply disappointed in #Budget2023. Rather than #KeepThePromise & increase intl assistance, today the gov broke that promise & cut intl assistance. I believe in an international Canada - we can do better @JustinTrudeau @cafreeland @HarjitSajjan #cdnpoli
Step 2: Email your MP (find them here) expressing your disappointment and CC Justin Trudeau (firstname.lastname@example.org), Chrystia Freeland (email@example.com), and Minister Harjit Sajjan (firstname.lastname@example.org). Your email should include why you are personally disappointed in the overall international assistance funding being cut by $1.3 billion – a 15% cut. You can take inspiration from this release, but make it your own.