Given our concern over the cuts to international assistance in Federal Budget 2023, we want to look at what the Government of Canada has been doing to address global hunger. How and where are our international assistance dollars being spent? What are the spending priorities of the government?
Here is a brief overview.
Global Affairs Canada (GAC)
Global Affairs Canada is the lead federal department for international development, and for humanitarian, peace and security assistance. Most of Canada’s international assistance funding flows through GAC.
In June 2017, GAC launched a Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) that seeks to “eradicate poverty and build a more peaceful, more inclusive, and more prosperous world” by promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls. Two priority action areas in the FIAP address food issues directly:
- Human Dignity (includes health and nutrition interventions); and
- Growth that Works for Everyone (includes agriculture and support for small-scale farmers).
- Environment and Climate Action, a third action area, speaks to climate adaptation and mitigation, important strategies related to food production.
These three action areas link directly to UN Sustainable Development Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
Where our International Assistance dollars go
In 2021, the last year that information was available, over 50% of International Assistance went to international/global health organizations, including the World Food Programme, while just under 20% went to Canadian and international civil society organizations (CSOs). The vast majority of funds (63%) went to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It is important to note that most of Canada’s funding is short-term rather than multi-year, leaving aid recipients unable to count on sustained funding for the longer-term. With stable multi-year funding, better outcomes can be achieved.
How Canada measures up in its Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending
In 1969, a UN Resolution called for countries to contribute a minimum of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) to Official Development Assistance. Canada has never met that target. In 2019 the Standing Committee on Finance recommended that Canada begin increasing its spending on international aid to reach the target of 0.7% of GNI by 2030. In 2021, Canada ranked 6th among the 31 donor DAC countries in terms of total international assistance given, but we fall to 13th when the aid dollars are ranked by percentage of GNI, with Canada contributing just 0.32%.1 As a nation we still have a considerable way to go to reach the 0.7% target.
The impact of Budget 2023
International Assistance has been reduced by 16%, or $1.3 billion, in Budget 2023. This is an alarming step backwards in Canada’s contribution to humanitarian assistance and international development. While the specific impacts of the budget cut are yet to be seen, it is clear that with less funding now flowing to the Global South, how the dollars are allocated will be more important than ever.
- Discover some of the other Government of Canada departments and agencies that contribute to global food security in this summary.
- Explore the details of Canada’s International Assistance spending at DonorTracker.org.
- Learn about two specific food security projects in Africa funded by the Canadian government: Rural Women Cultivating Change is a six-year, $14.8 million program focused on women's empowerment in remote rural regions of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya. The project is funded by Global Affairs Canada and coordinated by the non-profit SeedChange Canada. The Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund is a ten-year, $35 million Canada-Australia partnership focused on improving food security, resilience, and gender equality across Eastern and Southern Africa.