How much can Canada afford to give?

Big-name charities like Oxfam, Unicef, and World Vision are calling on Canada to step up their foreign aid game. 

What happened: Ahead of this year's budget, 75 NGOs signed an open letter to Canada's finance minister that asked the government to increase international aid contributions from the $8.2 billion pledged in the last budget to $10 billion by 2025.

  • New foreign aid spending last year largely went to programs fighting Covid and supporting Ukraine. The budget also listed combating climate change, strengthening democracy, and improving women's and children's lives globally as focus areas. 

There’s been no indication of how much foreign aid spending could increase this year, but the feds have hinted it would focus less on humanitarian aid and more on infrastructure investments.

Why it matters: The feds may have promised to increase international development assistance, but Canada remains a middling donor. In 2021, 0.32% of Canada’s gross national income was spent on international aid, well off the 0.7% target outlined by the UN.

  • At the same time, pressure is also on the feds to pull back spending in certain areas as things like war, inflation, and increased interest rates continue to foul things up.

Bottom line: From a devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, to climate disasters in the Global South, to recalcitrant authoritarianism in Afghanistan (to name just a few causes), it seems there is more need for help than ever, but also more pressure than ever to cut back.