Thursday, October 09, 2008

Canada ‘ punching below’ its weight in aid — McKenna

from the Chronicle Herald


Canada has fallen behind too many other nations in providing aid to developing countries, Frank McKenna says.

"I would like to see us stop punching below our weight," the former Liberal premier of New Brunswick and Canadian ambassador to the United States told a Halifax dinner Wednesday night.

Mr. McKenna said Canada dedicates only 0.28 per cent of its budget to helping developing countries.

"That’s half of what we gave in the early 1990s," he said at a benefit dinner for the Coady International Institute in Antigonish.

"More, much more, has been given by everybody from Norway to Sweden to Finland to Denmark to Ireland to Switzerland to Luxembourg to Austria, Spain, Australia, Spain — do you get the picture?

"A lot of countries in the world give more than we do and they all have the same thing in common. They’re far less affluent than we are in Canada.

"We are wealthier than virtually all other nations in the world and yet we don’t seem to have it in our DNA to strive to reach the highest level of giving."

Mr. McKenna, deputy chairman of the TD Bank Financial Group, said looking at the figures on world poverty is "mind-numbing."

He said at least 80 per cent of humanity lives on less than $10 a day and more than a billion people live on less than $1 per day.

"More than nine million die every year because they’re just too poor to stay alive," he said.

"Of 1.9 billion children in the developing world, there are 620 million without adequate shelter, 400 million with no access to safe water and 270 million with no access to health service.

"And according to UNICEF, close to 30,000 children die every day because of poverty."

Meanwhile, Americans spend $8 billion a year on cosmetics, Europeans fork out $50 billion on cigarettes and the Japanese spend $35 billion on business entertainment.

Link to full article. May expire in future.

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