Friday, May 22, 2009

Canada again chooses not to give 0.7% GNP to development aid

The Canadian government announced yesterday that they will keep funding levels the same for international development aid. Despite receiving much criticism for not increasing the amount of aid, Canada says they will work to make their aid dollars more effective.

Activists wanted Canada to increase spending of aid to 0.7% of it's gross domestic product, which is the amount they say is needed from the developed world to effectively remove poverty.

From Canada's Financial Post, writer Mike Blanchfield attended the press conference that made the announcement.

International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda announced Wednesday a new set of foreign aid spending priorities — but no new money — as she took a swipe at celebrity activists such as U2's Bono and fellow rock singer Bob Geldof, the organizer of Live Aid African poverty relief concerts.

"What I will talk about is not something that aims to please Irish rock stars," Oda said off the top of a major policy speech at the University of Toronto.

Oda appeared determined to head off criticism of the absence of any increase in foreign aid spending or a commitment to increase Canada's approximately $4 billion in foreign aid to meet the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of GDP.

Canada's rate stands at about 0.35 per cent of GDP, and that shortfall has put both the ruling Conservatives and their Liberal predecessors in the crosshairs of high-profile, anti-poverty celebrity activists such as Bono and Geldof.

Oda said the Conservative government's focus would be to make Canada's aid spending more accountable at a time of great economic hardship across the globe.

The Canadian International Development Agency will now focus on three core policy priorities: increasing food security, stimulating sustainable growth and alleviating problems that affect children and youth.

A new feature will require CIDA to table an annual Development for Results report in Parliament "that will show Canadians how their tax dollars are making a difference."

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