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CCIC calls on government to improve development assistance in 2012 budget

Maria Krause

On September 29, the Canadian Council for International Co-Operation (CCIC), an MCC coalition partner, presented a Brief to the Standing Committee on Finance as a part of the 2012 pre-budget consultations.

As a coalition of volunteer organizations working internationally for sustainable human development, the CCIC was invited by the committee to speak about Canada’s official development assistances spending. During their presentation, the CCIC laid out three messages for the 2012 Budget: that the Government (1) increase its spending on international assistance, (2) increase spending on the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), and (3) improve its climate change financing.

The call for improved international assistance comes in the second year of the Government’s 4-year freeze on the International Assistance Envelope (IAE). The IAE is the portion of the federal budget ear-marked for programs of international cooperation, including the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Department of Finance. This freeze has resulted in a drop from 0.37% of Canada’s Gross National Income (GNI) in 2010, to an estimated 0.30% in 2012. This number is expected to decline even further to 0.28% by 2014, placing Canada near the bottom of the list of the 22 official donors.

The Government instigated the freeze in an effort to balance the budget by 2014, predicting that it will save the country $2.2 billion over the next three years. However, the CCIC says that while this $2.2 billion is only 1.2% of the savings needed to balance the budget, it represents great costs to marginalized people around the world. The cuts also come despite an increase in Canada’s military spending rates, which are currently at their highest since World War Two. Furthermore, the CCIC points out that several countries in worse fiscal conditions than Canada, including the UK, Australia and Ireland, will continue to increase their contributions to meet the UN aid target of 0.7% of GNI.

The Brief also asks the Government to uphold its commitment to financing education, which is one of the Canada’s stated thematic priorities. Specifically, the CCIC is calling on the Government to increase its contributions to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to $125 million over the next three years.

Canada played a key role in the founding of the GPE, a partnership that is currently helping to finance education in 37 countries. Citing the benefits of education, such as increasing the life-expectancy of children under five and increasing agricultural output, the CCIC asks that the Government make this spending commitment at the GPE Replenishment Pledging Conference in November.

The CCIC’s third call is for the Government to improvements its climate change financing. The CCIC asks the government to commit $400 million to the “Fast-Start” initiative in at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17), the global climate change conference, this December in Durban. The “Fast-Start” Climate Change Financing focuses on alleviating poverty connected to climate change, and was supported by Canada in the last fiscal year.

CCIC is calling for the government to continue to support “Fast-Start” initiative and others, and to ensure that the funding goes to programming specifically focused on issues of adaptation to climate change faced by vulnerable populations.