767 million – or one in ten people on the planet live in extreme poverty. It is a place where hunger and disease thrive; where too often children don't live to reach school age - let alone attend school, and where simple necessities like a toilet are considered a luxury.
Ending poverty is Goal #1 of the 17 goals of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The goals have been set by the United Nations and are a blueprint – a guide – for people, organizations, the private sector and governments all around the world to work together to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. Canada has committed to the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) but we lag behind other high-income countries in terms of how much we give in Canadian aid (see "Why Canadian aid is important" below). With only 0.28% of Gross National Incomes (GNI) going to Canadian aid, we are a long way from the globally agreed upon target of 0.7%. To put this in perspective, that represents just 28 cents for every $100 Canadians earn.
Investing to combat global poverty is not about being charitable. As a leader on the world stage, it is in Canada’s strategic interest to ensure that it continues to fund programs to support people living in poverty. Extreme poverty leads to country instability and has an adverse effect on the kind of systems that create healthy environments and safe communities.
Since 1970, the United Nations target is for developed countries to give 0.7% of their gross national income to development assistance (global aid spending). Countries who have reached or surpassed the target of 0.7% of GNI include:
Other high income countries that contribute to aid:
Currently, Canada gives $6.1 billion (2018) to aid annually. This represents 0.28% of Canada’s gross national income (GNI). While this is a large number, it equals only 28 cents for every $100 Canadians earn (equal to 2 Tim Hortons coffees a week ($59,564 yr, at $2/coffee). Learn more.
When more children live past the age of 5, and when mothers can decide if and when to have children, population sizes do not go up - they go down. Parents have fewer children when they’re confident those children will survive into adulthood, so when death rates among children go down, so do birth rates. Learn more.
Canadians are very generous and in fact, in 2013 donated $1.3 billion dollars to charitable international organizations. However, it does not meet the global need or stack up to the current spending by the Canadian government on aid ($5.37 billion in 2017). The Government of Canada can coordinate its efforts with other global governments and donors by investing Canadian aid in multilateral organizations like Gavi and the Global Fund. These investments are highly effective because they mobilise large-scale funding, bring specialist expertise, support innovation, can contribute effectively in conflict situations, and provide a platform for action in every country in the world - which no single country can accomplish alone. If Canadian aid were replaced simply by private donations to health organizations, even the same dollar amount could not save the same number of lives that Canadian aid contributes to. The Canadian government can leverage money in ways that an individual Canadian are not able to. Learn more here and here.
A recent survey shows that 81 per cent of Canadians agree that Canada should do its fair share along with other countries to help developing countries. There are currently 14,000 Canadians employed in the non-profit sector. There are also 2.8 million Canadians living abroad, meaning that Canadian aid supports the development of countries that Canadians also call home. Learn more.
Canada’s historic investment of $1.4 billion dollars annually until 2030 in women and girls’ health, including sexual and reproductive health rights, will contribute significantly to the wellbeing of over 18 million women around the world. While this investment makes Canada a top funder of sexual and reproductive health rights globally, when considering inflation this investment does not necessarily increase Canada’s aid budget.
Canadian aid directly supports humanitarian efforts reacting to climate crises such as natural disasters, since climate change is a leading cause of migration and displacement. Since climate change disproportionately affects those living in low- and middle-income countries, Canadian aid supports those disadvantaged by the changing climate, whether in humanitarian contexts, through infrastructure, or investing in health and wellbeing.
Without strong commitments to Canadian aid and support for effective global multilateral funds, we risk relapsing on our progress against poverty and communicable diseases which will only cost our Government more in the end. For example, while polio eradication is very close, with less than 20 new cases per year globally, without continued support, this number could begin to increase once again and spread to areas that had once seen it eradicated. This means that past aid spending would be wasted, and the disease becomes more difficult and expensive to eliminate in the future. Canadians will continue to travel beyond our borders and are directly affected by stability and global health threats abroad. Canadian aid not only lifts up people living in poverty, but protects Canadians’ health and security.
Canada currently gives the lowest dollar amount to aid of all the G7 countries yet in a recent survey Canadians estimated that Canada’s international assistance contribution is 2.5 times bigger than it is. By limiting Canadian aid, Canada is telling the world that it is content to lag behind on its’ commitment to humanitarian causes and building a more equal and just world, which does not align with Canadian values.