Canada Defends Haiti Aid Spending Pace

The Canadian government cites the introduction of additional checks and balances as the reason behind the pace of disbursing aid to quake-hit Haiti, which critics have described as “frustrating.”

In the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake, Canada vowed to match private donations for relief efforts in Haiti, which total 220 million Canadian dollars (USD218 million). So far, the Canadian International Development Agency has paid out only 65.15 million Canadian dollars, Postmedia News reports through Canadian publication Times Colonist.

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An even slower pace is observed in the disbursement of Canada’s aid for flood-devastated Pakistan, Postmedia News notes. The Canadian government has so far not established how much funds are to be matched for the relief efforts, though Canadian Minister of International Cooperation Beverley J. Oda said a report on this is “imminent.”

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Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae has made known his frustration over the Harper administration’s Haiti and Pakistan aid spending process.

“There was a huge humanitarian outpouring,” Rae said, as quoted by Postmedia News. “And I think that’s very frustrating when it doesn’t get put into action. I just don’t think there’s a sense of urgency at the heart of the Canadian government.”

Oda said lessons from past relief efforts prompted the government to institute new checks and balances. She noted that following the 2004 Asian tsunami, “hundreds of millions of dollars were going in,” but many donors had no idea who is funding what.

“Everybody had the best of intentions,” she said to Postmedia News. “But it was uncoordinated,” leading to a lot of wasted money.

Rae agreed that there is a need to ensure the proper spending of Canadian funding.

“[B]ut the fact is that once the spotlight goes away from the tragedy of these events, the pressure’s off,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon announced that Canada will contribute 9.5 million Canadian dollars to help build the headquarters of the Haitian National Police and 1.3 million Canadian dollars to support an instructor training program on basic first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and disaster preparedness, which will given to members of the Haitian police. 

About the author

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    Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.