Canada eyes $377.7M in foreign aid cuts

Humanitarian aid for earthquake victims in Turkey by the Canadian government. The country is set to reduce its international aid spending by 377.6 million Canadian dollars. Photo by: © Canadian Red Cross Society

Canada is set to reduce its international aid spending by 377.6 million Canadian dollars ($377.7 million) over the next three years — a plan that aid agencies unsurprisingly find disappointing.

The plan was outlined as part of the 2012 federal budget released March 29 by Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Based on the plan, Canada will reduce its aid budget by CA$180.7 million in fiscal 2012-2013, CA$61.4 million in 2013-2014 and CA$135.5 million in 2014-2015 to save CA$377.6 million over the next three years.

The reductions to the international assistance envelope, along with cuts to other budget accounts, are in line with the Conservative government’s goal of “returning to balanced budgets.” Overall, the government plans to save up to CA$5.2 billion from 2012 to 2015.

A number of Canadian aid agencies have expressed concern over the planned reductions to the foreign aid budget.

Michael Elliott, president and CEO of ONE, said his group understands the “difficult fiscal choices” Canada has to make given tough economic times. But he stressed that the decision to spend less on foreign aid “will achieve only symbolic savings, but have a profound impact on human lives and dignity.”

It still unclear how and where exactly the reductions will be applied, but the budget plan urges the Canadian International Development Agency to reduce operational costs, restructure operations and concentrate on programs where it can have the greatest impact.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.