International aid: NGOs 'in shock' after Freeland budget | Federal Budget 2023

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International aid: NGOs “shocked” after Freeland Budget | Federal Budget 2023

Development aid organizations are concerned about the 15% reduction in the international aid budget.

Beyond Our Borders calls on Ottawa to set annual development spending at $10 billion by 2025.

Nearly a hundred organizations denounce Canada's disengagement from international aid and from its feminist policy abroad.

It's a lack of vision. I would tell you that it is a lack of political courage, drops Louis Bélanger, of the group Beyond our borders. It's a shock for us, says Béatrice Vaugrante, Executive Director of Oxfam-Québec.

NGOs are concerned about the reduction in the international aid envelope, which fell from $8.15 billion in 2022 to $6.88 billion in the 2023 budget. are astonished by the absence of new investments to improve the situation of women, girls and vulnerable people around the world.

“The sector is really very disappointed with the lack of vision, the lack of ambition of the Liberal government. »

— Louis Bélanger, director of the group Beyond our borders

For Béatrice Vaugrante, this is a disengagement at an extremely critical moment.

In the 2022 budget, the amount was more generous due, in particular, to the Canadian contribution to the COVAX program to improve access to vaccines against COVID-19 in the context of a pandemic. Regardless, NGOs see this as a worrying setback.

Just because the pandemic is behind us doesn't mean we don't have crying needs, says Louis Bélanger, highlighting the migration and climate crises, as well as the famine that countries are facing.

< p class="e-p">In response to the budget, 95 international aid organizations signed a joint statement denouncing the funding cut and reiterating their call for an increase in Canada's international cooperation envelope of $10 billion per year by 2025 .

The director of Oxfam-Québec is particularly concerned to see Ottawa turning away from aid for women. She finds it frustrating to see the Liberal government clamoring for feminist policies and then abandoning women at this point, where instead they are increasingly under attack around the world.

“It jeopardizes all the projects we were committed to that require long-term investments. You don't make a feminist policy in six months.

— Béatrice Vaugrante, Executive Director of Oxfam-Québec

For weeks, organizations have been concerned about delays in funding approval and renewal of certain projects to defend women's rights abroad.

Béatrice Vaugrante says she understands that Canadians are crying out for help with the rising cost of living or that Ukraine needs Western support, but let's not forget the rest of the planet . We don't live in a place completely isolated from the crises of the world.

In the budget tabled Tuesday, the Canadian government announced an additional loan of $2.4 billion for the Ukraine, which will be disbursed through the International Monetary Fund.

For NGOs, the detachment of the Minister for International Development, Harjit Sajjan, is turning the iron in the wound.

Minister of International Development, Harjit Sajjan, has defended himself against the findings of the Auditor General of Canada according to which Ottawa is unable to measure the results of its “feminist aid” in the world.

Béatrice Vaugrante finds it worrying to see the Minister post a message on Twitter about the budget, without any reference to what is happening in his own international aid portfolio.

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For Béatrice Vaugrante, it is the image of disengagement that we see. We need leadership and I don't see it.

Budget 2023 states that Canada is committed to improving the lives of women, girls and vulnerable populations around the world and to increasing international development assistance each year by 2030, without indicating new budget commitments.

The document also clarifies that the figures are forecasts and do not include items that are expiring and have not been renewed.

A door is therefore open for further announcements over the coming months, but for now, uncertainty reigns.

To the editor of these lines, Minister Sajjan's office did not respond to our questions.

In a report tabled Monday, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada concluded that Ottawa was unable to measure the impact of its international aid policy for women.

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