The combined crises of extreme inequality, COVID-19, and unprecedented food and energy price inflation – all accelerated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – are wreaking havoc on the world’s most vulnerable people, especially women and girls. Oxfam estimates that 263 million more people were pushed into extreme poverty in 2022.
In this context, it was positive to see Canada increase its international assistance budget from $7.6 billion in 2020-2021 to more than $8 billion in 2022-2023, and amend the Income Tax Act to allow Canadian charitable organizations to work with partners in more feminist ways. This increase in foreign aid will save lives worldwide. However, it still fell short of the amount needed to adequately tackle global challenges such as COVID-19, climate change, and conflict – all of which exacerbate gender inequality.
Canada continued to show global leadership on paid and unpaid care work, and made new investments focused on COVID-19 and global health. However, stalled talks at the World Trade Organization resulted in a much-limited version of a TRIPS waiver that would have allowed generic manufacturers to boost production on COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments. Canada’s refusal to support the waiver has been heavily criticized by civil society.