March 26, 2012- Oxfam Canada urges the government to unfreeze foreign aid spending when it unveils the 2012 budget Thursday.
Canada’s $5 billion annual aid budget is equivalent to $154 per Canadian, less than $3 a week. Canada can afford to join such countries as Australia and Great Britain in keeping long-term aid commitments on track despite global economic uncertainty. Canadian aid is less than half the 0.7 per cent of the economy promised by Parliament.
“For the price of a cup of coffee a week per Canadian, we could keep our promise to the world’s most vulnerable people,” said Mark Fried, Oxfam policy coordinator. “We can afford it.”
Fried is available for comment before and after the budget is released.
Oxfam recommends that the Government of Canada earmark $5.6 billion for Official Development Assistance in the 2012 Budget, an 8 % increase from Budget 2011.
This modest increase would make a crucial difference in the lives of people living in poverty, in particular for the rising number of women and men, girls and boys suffering from hunger around the world.
Canada’s aid was frozen at $5.16 billion for four years in the 2010-2011 budget, ending nearly a decade of annual 8-per cent-increases to fulfill Canada’s pledge to double spending on overseas development.
The 2012 Budget is also the right moment for the government to announce a long-term plan for achieving the UN aid target of 0.7 % of Gross National Income, a goal endorsed in June 2005 by all parties in the Canadian Parliament. The budget freeze would set Canada back to 0.27 per cent by 2014.
“On the generosity index, Canada sits near the bottom of the world’s 22 donor countries,” Fried said. “Why is the government saving money on the backs of the most vulnerable people in the world?”
“Minister Flaherty should do like his Conservative colleague in the United Kingdom, who just announced a massive increase in the aid budget. They understand that aid doesn’t only save lives, it makes for a stable and more prosperous world.”
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