OTTAWA — A major international report has concluded that the Trudeau government's lofty rhetoric about being "back" on the world stage needs the added heft of more foreign aid spending.
The Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reached that conclusion in a report released today by its Development Assistance Committee.
The report is part of the OECD's rotating five-year review of member countries, and its findings undercut the government's attempts to lobby for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council in the coming years.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland are both bound for the UN General Assembly later this month, where the campaigning will continue for the two-year temporary seat that would start in 2021.
Government officials say Canada will be campaigning on the notion of promoting public-private sector partnerships as a tool of financing foreign aid.
The OECD says Canada deserves credit for its renewed engagement on the world stage, including its global advocacy for the rights of women and girls in developing countries, but it needs to spend more on overseas development assistance.
Canada needs to 'add weight' to global advocacy
The report says that Canada's foreign aid spending fell in 2017 to 0.26 per cent of gross national income from 0.31 per cent in 2012, far below the UN target of 0.7 per cent. The average for DAC members countries was 0.32.
It says that the government's recent new spending of $2 billion over five years on foreign aid simply isn't enough to restore spending to 2012 levels — the last time the OECD reviewed Canada's aid budget and found it lacking.
Canada has become a "central actor" in supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to eradicate poverty, hunger, gender imbalance and inequality by 2030, said Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, the DAC chair.
"It is important to now set out a path to increase aid volumes to add weight to Canada's global advocacy role," she added in a statement accompanying Friday's report.
0.7 target would cost too much: minister
Canada's aid spending has fallen "despite robust economic growth," the DAC said in a statement on Friday.
The Trudeau government has said that it has no plans to reach the UN's target of 0.7 per cent — a benchmark that was set in the 1960s by an international commission headed by Canada's former Liberal prime minister Lester Pearson.
Trudeau and International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau have said that reaching the 0.7 per cent target would simply cost too much.
The government has touted Trudeau's leadership at the June G7 summit he hosted in Quebec, where he was able to raise more than $3.8 billion in pledges to help send the world's poorest girls to school.