Ottawa, February 5, 2020 – The numbers are in: A majority of Canadians want their country to do more to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
This year, for the 30th edition of International Development Week (February 2-8), the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) commissioned a public opinion survey to find out where Canadians stand on the issue of assistance to developing countries.
The polling, conducted by Abacus Data, shows that 74% of respondents want Canada to either play a leading role, or at least match the contributions of similar developed countries.
Official Development Assistance (ODA) helps the world’s poorest, most vulnerable people meet their basic needs, such as water, food, shelter, medical assistance, and education. It provides emergency goods and services in response to natural disasters and other humanitarian crises. Canada’s contribution to ODA currently sits at 0.28% of Gross National Income (GNI). That is 28 cents for every $100 of revenue.
“When Canadians find out what proportion of our national wealth goes to ODA, they are usually surprised at how small the number is,” said Nicolas Moyer, President and CEO of CCIC. “While we also have our issues to deal with at home, we are a wealthy nation and we can, and should, at least do our fair share to help others around the globe,” he added.
In 1969, following Canada’s leadership, the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) pledged to assign 0.7% of their Gross National Income (GNI) to development assistance. Since then, Canada has never come close to meeting that goal. In fact, the current 0.28% figure is the lowest in 50 years.
Looking at why Canada should increase its level of ODA, a number of compelling reasons resonate with Canadians. Chief among them, and not surprisingly in the context of the current coronavirus epidemic, is how investing in health systems abroad can reduce the spread of infectious diseases. Indeed, 88% of respondents support this argument.
Another advantage that ODA yields is of an economic nature. By providing aid, Canada helps to develop skills, attract investments, and build relationships that lead to new trading partners. Polling shows that 87% of Canadians think this is an excellent or good reason to increase ODA. Vietnam, where Canada has contributed more than $1.5 billion in development assistance, offers a clear example of this. In 1993, Canada’s annual two-way trade with Vietnam was $50 million. In 2018, it had grown to $6.5 billion.
While these reasons make a convincing case for more ODA, the sense that, as one of the world’s largest economies, Canada has a moral obligation to help others also holds a lot of sway with Canadians of all political leanings.
“Above all, we know that aid works, that it has tangible, measurable impacts on the lives of individuals and families that are trying to improve their circumstances and raise their hopes,” said Moyer. “That really is the best argument.”
For more information about what CCIC and its members are doing during International Development Week 2020, please see here.
For a memo outlining the Abacus Data polling results, please see here.
About CCIC: We are Canada’s national association of international development and humanitarian organizations. We represent 2,000+ Canadian organizations working to reduce poverty in developing countries and help survivors of humanitarian disasters. We advocate for an effective use of Canadian aid to assist the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world.