POLITICS

Canada Foreign Aid: OECD Says We Need To Do More For World's Poor

06/19/2012 02:13 EDT | Updated 08/19/2012 05:12 EDT
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Canada received a scolding from its peers Tuesday, with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) saying the government doesn't do enough to help the world’s poor.

While the OECD commended "effective efforts" in Afghanistan and Haiti, where much of the government's $5.3 billion aid budget has gone, its report says Canada still falls short of international targets.

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A core concern outlined in the report is that that Canada’s contributions will significantly drop following the Conservative government’s budget cuts to foreign aid.

Between 2001 and 2010, Canada made good on a Liberal promise to double aid. But in 2011 contributions fell by just over five per cent and are projected to drop by a further seven per cent by 2014-2015 after a new round of government cutbacks, the report notes.

"The reductions in Canada's ODA (official development assistance) since 2011 -- combined with its plan to concentrate on fewer countries, many of which are middle income -- may undermine the support it has given in recent years to poor countries with weak capacity, especially in sub-Saharan Africa," the report states.

“[Canada] made the commitment to double aid, and they did that and that is very good, but now we don’t want to see them slip,” Karen Jorgenson of the OECD’s Development Co-operation Directorate told The Huffington Post Canada.

“Having met that commitment they should at least stay there or hopefully set themselves another target to grow,” Jorgenson added. “The reductions would reverse many of the gains in the last 10 years.”

Canada ranks eight on the list of top OECD donors. But with an aid budget worth 0.31 per cent of gross national income it is nowhere near meeting the global target of 0.7 per cent, which the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark and Sweden have met for a number of years.

Canada still hasn’t drawn up a timetable for achieving the 0.7 per cent goal, the report states.

It’s not all bad, though. When Canada invests, it is recognized as a serious and committed player, Jorgenson said.

Still some problems that were noted in 2007, when the OECD's Development Assistance Committee last looked at Canada’s foreign aid, haven’t been addressed.

Aid is still scattered and unfocused, the 2012 report finds.

"[D]ecision-making criteria should be more transparent," the report states. "Canada lacks a clear, top-level statement that sets out its vision for development co-operation. The new approach to Canadian aid is not yet supported by sufficient or transparent decision-making criteria, complicating its proceses and public accountability and constraining discussions with key stakeholders, including parliament."

In recent years, the Conservative government has dropped or delayed funding to traditional recipients such as KAIROS and International Planned Parenthood Federation with little explanation.

International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda told HuffPost the federal government would “seriously consider” the findings and the recommendations of the report.

“Canada places value on the OECD-DAC review as a source of feedback from our peers,” she said. “Since our government took office in 2006, we committed to making Canada's international assistance more effective, focused and accountable. This is a process that takes time, but we can be proud of our progress and the steps we took to make our international work more effective. While there will always be areas for improvement, the peer review confirmed that Canada’s progress to untie aid and focus its efforts by country and themes, is achieving important and meaningful results. This helps to ensure the best possible results for improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable,” Oda said.

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Who Gets The Most Canadian Foreign Aid?