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Global Poverty
 
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Current Status

In the federal government’s 2005 International Policy Statement, international development was low on the priority list.

Aid/Official Development Assistance (ODA)

Canada presently allocates less than half of what was promised 35 years ago under former Prime Minister Lester Pearson, who led the world in setting an international ODA target of 0.7% of Canada's Gross National Income (GNI). Canada’s current allocation is less than 0.4% of GNI.

Although the government ‘locked’ an annual 8% increase to ODA, studies by civil society groups indicate that for Canada to achieve its goal of contributing 0.7% GNI to ODA by 2015 would require a 12-15% annual increase in ODA spending. [1]

Debt Relief

Canada has shown leadership in forgiving bilateral debts. But, for every dollar of Canadian debt relief, sub-Saharan African countries owe another $94 to multilateral financial institutions - having already paid international creditors an estimated $9 ½ dollars for every $1 owed in 1980. Because of this heavy debt load, poor countries are unable to provide basic healthcare, education or clean water for their citizens.

In 2005, the G8 agreed to cancel the debts of 27 countries that owed the World BankInternational Monetary Fund (IMF) and African Development Bank a total of nearly 70 billion dollars. This reduced their debts by an average of two-thirds, allowing these countries to focus their resources on poverty reduction.[2]

Canada must continue to push for cancellation of all debts owed to multilateral financial institutions, and work with G8 leaders on a financing plan for debt cancellation that does not include cuts to foreign aid.

Trade Justice

Current international trade structures and rules keep poor countries poor by stripping them of the ability to manage their borders and sustain their markets. The December 2005 Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization , held in Hong Kong, had disappointing results. Rather than implementing strategies that benefit the poor and take global poverty reduction seriously, rich countries failed to take the necessary steps to correct some of the gross imbalances in world trade. Overall, the major developed countries took positions that favoured the interests of the rich over those of the world’s poor. There was, however some useful progress in providing special measures to protect vulnerable farmers in poor countries. 

Footnotes

[1] Canadian Council for International Cooperation, “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: A Role for Canada,” (2003) http://www.ccic.ca/e/docs/002_aid_2004_commentary_federalbudget.pdf. [16 August 2005].
[2] G8 Gleneagles 2005 Policy Issues, “Africa,” (2005) http://www.g8.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1094235520151. [2 August 2005].

Issue: Global Poverty

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Related Issue: Poverty and Homelessness in Canada


   
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