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Budget 2017 – Where do we go from here?

Julia SanchezSo budget day came and went, and left us with a big round zero percent increase in the international assistance budget – nothing, rien, nada. No new money to propel the soon-to-be announced new International Assistance Policy Statement (resulting from extensive consultations that engaged more than 15,000 individuals from around the world, according to Global Affairs Canada). No long-term predictable path to reach the internationally recognized target of 0.7% of GNI, and no new funds foreseen over the next 5 years to invest in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

As far as international development is concerned, the only announcements were repeats – the Development Finance Institution (DFI), already announced by the Harper Government in Budget 2015, was re-announced with the same budget as previously and no significant additional details. And the recent commitment of $650 million dollars for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), announced by the Prime Minister in March 8th 2017, was included in the budget and confirmed as NOT being new money.

Very importantly, the promise contained in Budget 2016, that Budget 2017 would be informed by the results of the International Assistance Review, was broken or misleading at best. What does this tell us of what the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister think of the results of that extensive and comprehensive consultation process?

Those of us following the ups and downs around expectations that the Trudeau government, given its strong and persistent discourse of being a global leader, would finally reverse the negative trend of the official development assistance envelope, and put us on a path to restore our past leadership on this front globally, had been fearing that this might be the result for several weeks already. But of course, the disappointment is still there. And I am quite baffled.
I am having a really hard time understanding how a zero percent increase in Canada’s budget for combatting poverty globally, in the context that our contribution is at an almost all time low historically, is consistent with our ambition to be perceived as leaders on the global stage. How do we make a convincing case that we “are back”, and that we are “here to help” if we are laggards on this critical aspect of our global engagement?

Our current levels of investment in proven solutions to many of the world’s development challenges, and to alleviate human suffering during humanitarian crisis, are a national embarrassment. Canadians see themselves as a generous people – we welcome refugees with open arms, we deploy peacekeepers to fragile contexts, we mobilize resources to come to the aid of societies struck by natural disasters. But as far as our official aid efforts are concerned, we have been trailing other like-minded countries and peers (OECD, G7, mid-sized developed economies) for more than two decades now.

So where do we go from here? How do we generate a long-term and non-partisan commitment from Canada and Canadians at this particular international juncture, when we are keen to play a leadership role globally and the world is looking to us to do just that? I want to suggest there are a couple of priority actions for us to move the dial on this issue and restore Canada as one of the leading countries on international cooperation.

First, Canadians need to convey clearly, and without ambiguity, to the government that we support, demand and expect our federal government to do more. More specifically, that Canadian’s generosity must be reflected in Canada’s contributions to solving global issues and combatting poverty and injustice everywhere. Canadians need to understand what Canada’s current contribution to global development is, how it compares to that of other countries, and demand that it be increased. Given that Canadians are so globally connected, and that we are global citizens at heart, the current situation is unacceptable. Civil society, academics, young people and many more have a key role to play in making this happen. And unusual suspects, and new voices need to be added to this effort too.

Second, an all-of-government effort needs to be deployed to make champions for global cooperation from a broad range of Ministers in the current cabinet, as well as parliamentarians involved in different committees, the different critics, and more. A firm understanding of why investing more in making the world safer, fairer and more sustainable is good and necessary for a prosperous and stable Canada has to be shared by the whole-of-government and across parties. We need to generate a non-partisan, multi-generational consensus around the notion that Canada’s long-term sustainability and prosperity requires significant and fair investments in the world’s peace and prosperity.

We have our work cut out for us. Canada will be hosting the G7 in 2018 and the world will be watching to see what kind of leadership we offer. In 2019, we will be holding elections again, and the Trudeau government will be assessed as to its contributions to global cooperation as compared to previous governments. At the pace we are going, there is a real chance that Justin Trudeau could end his mandate with the lowest average levels of aid as compared to every-other Prime Minister in the last 50 years. Lower than Harper, Mulroney, Chretien, Martin and of course lower than his father too. This is surely not what Canadian leadership looks like – we need to get to work on ensuring that does not happen.

In solidarity,

Twitter: @JSanchezCCIC

Do you have any reactions to this column? I’d like to hear from you! Please send any comments to Julia Sanchez.


What we heard and what we should do now

Back in December 2016, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) released What we heard, a summary of input during the consultations for last year’s International Assistance Review. CCIC has now released an assessment of that summary document. The analysis identifies areas where CCIC feels the summary document makes important and welcome advances from the original discussion paper developed for the IAR. It also identifies areas where – from the Council’s perspective – it still falls short (including in relation to the findings of our analysis of the sector's input, In Our Own Words) or ignores areas raised in civil society submissions. In addition to an assessment and analysis of each section of the summary, CCIC includes recommendations the Council hopes the government will consider as it finalizes its International Assistance Policy (IAP), now expected in April or May.

Alternative Federal Budget

Again this year, CCIC contributed a chapter on International Development to the Alternative Federal Budget coordinated by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. The chapter highlights that achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals demands that Canada transform its approach to global development co-operation. The Alternative Federal Budget therefore proposes to launch a funded plan to align government policies with the SDGs, both in Canada and abroad. It also calls for Canada to gradually increase international development assistance to 0.41% of GNI by 2021-22, and aim for 0.7 % within a decade, while targeting Canada’s international aid to the poorest and most vulnerable, particularly women and girls. Furthermore, the Alternative Federal Budget proposes to establish a new development effectiveness action plan (Canada’s last one expired in 2011) with targets in line with those set out in the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

CCIC and Canada 150 & Beyond

Canada 150 and beyondOn the occasion of Canada’s 150th anniversary, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) seeks to broaden and deepen the narrative around Canada 150 to include Canadian contributions to global cooperation. Throughout 2017, CCIC will mark Canada 150 & Beyond with activities that focus on moving forward in global cooperation. Framed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — the ambitious global development agenda for the next 15 years — Canada 150 & Beyond will provide an opportunity to promote universality, as well as inspire and mobilize Canadian collective action around common goals for the next chapter in Canada's future. As Canadians reflect on Canada’s past, present, and future, Canada 150 & Beyond will present a unique opportunity for all Canadians to learn from Canada’s past contributions and move forward together in building a fairer, more sustainable, and safer world.

Leader’s Forum – Canada 150 & Beyond : Looking Back, Moving Forward

Canada 150Registration is now open for the 2017 CCIC Leaders Forum – Canada 150 & Beyond: Looking Back, Moving Forward, which will take place on May 9-10 in Ottawa. The CCIC Leaders’ Forum is designed to bring together Canadian CSO heads' of agency (EDs, CEOs, Presidents, etc.) and their Board chairs from across the country to address today’s most pressing challenges and opportunities. In a rapidly changing national and international context, Canadian CSOs need to work together to build a fairer, more sustainable and safer world. As Canada marks 150 years of confederation, our community has the opportunity to reflect on Canada’s contributions and leadership to global development and our shared aspirations for the future. Canada 150 & Beyond: Looking Back, Moving Forward will inspire new thinking, strengthen CSO capacity, and mobilize the Canadian international development and humanitarian assistance sector to take collective action. The 2017 CCIC Leaders forum will feature inspiring speakers, innovative professional workshops, the launch of the CCIC campaign, the Global Impact Soiree, (see more info below) and an advocacy day on Parliament Hill. CCIC Annual General Meeting (AGM) will also take place during the Leaders’ Forum.

Celebrate Canada's Global Contributions

Global Impact SoiréeOn the occasion of Canada's 150th anniversary and CCIC's Leaders Forum, CCIC is hosting the Global Impact Soirée, an elegant and inspiring social event to celebrate the achievements of our colleagues, community, and country. The Global Impact Soirée is a unique opportunity for leaders from the Canadian global cooperation sector, including civil society, government, academia, industry, and the international community, to come together to mark Canada’s leadership on the global stage.  You can expect a soirée like no other! We hope that many of you will join us to celebrate Canada's global impact, as we move together towards building a fairer, more sustainable, and safer world. More information here.

CCIC launched the Karen Takacs' Award 2017

Karen Takacs AwardOn International Women's Day, CCIC launched the Karen Takacs' Award for Women's Leadership in International Development. The award was created to recognize feminist advocacy and collaborative leadership in global cooperation. Karen Takacs was a celebrated and cherished leader of the Canadian international community. For over 20 years, she worked tirelessly to improve the lives and advance the rights of women and girls locally, nationally, and internationally. Karen was also a catalyst for collaboration in the Canadian international sector. The 2017 award winner will be honoured at the Global Impact on May 9, 2017 in Ottawa. To read more about the Award and the selection criteria, visit this page. Please note that the deadline for submitting nominations is April 7, 2017.

CCIC supports Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas

CCIC worked with the Global Network of CSOs for Disaster Reduction to draft a regional civil society statement on Disaster Risk Reduction. The statement was released during the 5th Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, held in Montreal on March 7-9, 2017, and was endorsed by more than 150 organizations from across the Americas. CCIC also convened a preparatory meeting for civil society attending the Regional Platform, and was involved in two side events (details here and here) during the summit. For more details, read why CCIC feels DRR remains an important insurance policy for sustainable development.

Towards building a common agenda on issues that matter to civil society

In January 2016, CCIC produced a brief to the Minister of International Development entitled Moving Our Common Agenda Forward: International development and humanitarian assistance priorities for the new government. The brief focused on five priority international development and humanitarian assistance challenges and policy areas that Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) have been addressing in recent years. One year on, CCIC released a report that assesses progress on the areas and actions identified in CCIC’s brief – areas and actions that are priorities for the CSO community in Canada. The report determines that overall the levels of attention and progress on the issues outlined in the brief last year have been very mixed.  The report concludes that the steps recommended in CCIC’s brief still represent opportunities for the government to make early and easy advances around a common agenda with civil society. These measures would concretely demonstrate that Canada is truly back as a substantial contributor to global cooperation, and that the government is committed to a new model of partnership and collaboration with civil society.

Busy month for CCIC's Regional Working Groups

ACFCCIC's Regional Working Groups were involved in co-hosting many delegations from partner organizations throughout the month of March, with a special focus on the impact of Canadian mining activities in Central America and in the Philippines. Public events were held in different cities and both delegations had the opportunity to meet with politicians and officials at  Global Affairs Canada, to share their concerns and provide recommendations on how Canada can move forward on corporate accountability and the protection of human rights. The Americas Policy Group (APG) also welcomed Dr. Sergio Aguayo, a Mexican scholar, to discuss the impact of the new Trump administration on migration , as well as the renegotiation of the ALENA. Dr. Aguayo did a public lecture at Carleton University and met with the North American division at Global Affairs Canada. A leader from the Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia also visited Canada to discuss the peace process in Colombia and the levels of violence that still prevail in many communities. Finally, a dialogue took place at Global Affairs Canada on the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, where APG members made a number of recommendations on how Canada can best support this important organization.

New in Development Unplugged

Development UnpluggedMany new articles have been published in Development Unplugged these past few weeks, and most of them were inspired by International Women's Day. Read the stories shared by Results Canada, Micronutrient Initiative, Equitas, WaterAid and VIDEA on how empowering women yield positive results for the whole community. CCIC Policy Officer Gavin Charles also wrote on the importance of disaster risk reduction as an insurance policy for sustainable development. Submissions to Development Unplugged are always welcomed! Send your 600-900 words articles to Chantal Havard.

Saying goodbye to Charles Saliba-Couture

Charles Saliba-CoutureCCIC staff and members want to acknowledge the invaluable contribution made by former Communications Assistant Charles Saliba-Couture, who ended a four-year collaboration with CCIC on March 17. Charles started as a consultant with the Asia-Pacific Working Group (APWG), was quickly recruited as assistant to the APWG and, for the past three years, was an important member of CCIC's communications team. Charles' professionalism, sense of initiative and positive personality will be missed! We wish him the very best as he responds to new professional challenges.


New CCIC member: Développement international Desjardins

Développement international DesjardinsCCIC is thrilled to welcome a new member, the Québec City based organization Développement international Desjardins (DID). Founded in 1970 with the goal of sharing the expertise and experience of the Desjardins Group with emerging and developing countries, Développement international Desjardins (DID) provides for disadvantaged communities around the world access to secure, diversified financial services that fit their needs. A pioneer in the deployment and development community finance around the world, DID today is a world leader in this sector and is active in more than 30 countries. DID's main areas of intervention are support for the establishment of inclusive finance institutions and capacity building of partners to provide specialized services, particularly in agricultural finance and small business financial services. DID insure the coordination of an international network of exchange that brings together some thirty community finance institutions, the Proxfin network.

MEMBER PROFILE: Islamic Relief Canada

Islamic Relief Canada
Zaid Al-Rawni

This month, CCIC met with Zaid Al-Rawni, CEO of Islamic Relief Canada to discuss the relief and development work they do globally – and domestically – and of the changing roles for Canadian NGOs working internationally.

Islamic Relief works with communities in over 40 countries to strengthen their resilience to calamities, and provide vital emergency aid when disasters occur. Please tell us about a recent project of which you are particular proud.

One project that we are very proud of is our Raspberry farming project in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The region is still reeling from the war that took place in the 1990s. Women are the ones who find it hard to find work to support their families. Official national figures estimate that around 20 percent of the population lives below the nationally-defined poverty line and 30 percent just above the poverty line.

In this project, Islamic Relief trains orphan families and single female-headed households on raspberry planting so that they can earn a living by growing and selling raspberries...

      Read More


Equitas celebrates 50 years of human rights education!

EquitasFor its 50th anniversary, Equitas is showcasing the inspiring journey of 50 human rights changemakers. From Thérèse Casgrain to Alaa Murabit, these are but a few of hundreds who have changed lives in Canada and around the world through human rights education. The series We are human rights changemakers illustrates how Equitas has shaped human rights education in Canada and worldwide in the last half century, and brought concrete and positive solutions to some of the most important challenges of our time. The 50 stories will be published on Equitas' website and social media in connection with international days, news and events. Discover the stories and celebrate with Equitas!

Feminist Scorecard 2017: Tracking government action on women’s rights – Oxfam Canada

Oxfam CanadaLed by a feminist Prime Minister who campaigned on a promise of inclusive growth, Canada is well placed to become a global leader in tackling the twin struggles of gender and economic inequality. Oxfam Canada has decided to track the Liberal government’s action to deliver on its feminist agenda, with the Feminist Scorecard 2017 being the first in this series. The scorecard concludes that while the Liberal government took several important steps during its first year in office, its bold feminist rhetoric has not yet translated into policy and spending decisions that push the needle forward on gender equality.


Amnesty International's 2017 Human Rights Agenda for Canada

Amnesty International’s 2017 Human Rights Agenda for Canada, A Year to Get It Right, provides 35 recommendations for most pressing action in the coming year. Of particular concern is the wide gap between rhetoric and reality when it comes to the Trudeau government’s commitments to the human rights of Indigenous peoples. Among the other recommendations in the 2017 agenda is a call on Canada to increase accountability for Canadian extractives companies operating abroad; develop an overarching human rights strategy for Canadian foreign policy; and adopt a human rights-based approach to national security.

Women at the Heart of Change – Development and Peace

As leaders and pillars of their communities, women are catalysts for change in their struggles for ecological justice, democracy and citizen participation, as well as peace and reconciliation. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Development and Peace recently launched a new thematic analysis called “Women at the Heart of Change”. The publication includes four case studies which illustrate the essential role that women play for positive change in partner organizations and the projects supported by Development and Peace.

UN Statement on World Humanitarian Crises

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recently released a statement to the Security Council on missions to Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya, calling the President of the UN Security Council for a “major international response” and “funds to do more” for these four conflicted-affected countries. The statement received great media coverage at the international level with headlines such as “World facing greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945” (BBC).

Book: Putting Knowledge to Work available on IDRC’s website

Producing knowledge that is relevant and can be acted upon is essential for international development. There is a renewed urgency for knowledge from the civil society sector, particularly non-academic organizations, to be acknowledged and recorded, to be distilled and leveraged, in order to help the sector retain its relevance. Putting Knowledge to Work unveils the often under-rated role that knowledge plays in non-governmental organizations’ (NGO) work in international cooperation for development. The book not only unpacks tensions and challenges faced by small and medium-sized development NGOs in particular; it also analyses cases in which organizations have devised inspiring solutions to improve their own performance, often in the face of adversity. You can download the book for free on IDRC’s website.


Do more with less foreign aid, Morneau urges development agencies
March 27, 2017
The Globe and Mail

Canada's leadership on sexual and reproductive health must be matched by healthy development budget
March 8, 2017
The Hill Times

Canada's aid to developing countries
February 28, 2017
Toronto Star


Save the date!
Food for Thought (for CCIC member EDs/CEOs only)
April 5, 2017, Ottawa, ON
June 7, Montreal, QC
Please contact Michelle Bested if you have any questions about this series.

APG Bi-Annual Forum
April 9-10, 2017
Ottawa, ON
Contact Laura Avalos for more details

CCIC Leaders’ Forum
May 9-10, 2017
Ottawa, ON

Global Impact Soiree
May 9, 2017
Ottawa, ON

ACF Annual Meeting
May 29-30, 2017
Ottawa, ON
Contact Laura Avalos for more details

Save the date!
CCIC Annual Conference
September 27-28, 2017
Ottawa, ON


Reporting the Refugee Crisis – CIGI Media Panel
Ottawa, Ontario
April 3, 2017

Formation sur l’égalité femmes-hommes – CQFD/AQOCI
Montreal, Quebec
May 15-17, 2017

8th International Conference on Human Rights Education: Bridging our diversities - Equitas
Montreal, Quebec
November 30-December 3, 2017

If you have an item for Flash!, you may send it to Chantal Havard. Please note that items should be no longer than 150 words.

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