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What If Canada Stepped Up Our Foreign Aid?


Many experts and academics have written detailed studies demonstrating the impact of foreign aid. When done right, foreign aid helps save lives. For example, Canada supports Gavi, a global organization that has helped save more than 13 million lives through delivering vaccines in developing countries. Foreign aid helps build stronger communities and economies. Foreign aid helps address the issues that make poverty a vicious circle. It is a long-term investment that benefits Canada and the world.

We’ve already shared with you that Canada is currently well below average when it comes to foreign aid generosity. ONE will be campaigning for an increase in the foreign aid budget (also called ODA: Official Development Assistance). Why? Because right now we are not living up to our reputation. So now, let’s look at the impact we can have on the lives of people around the world. What would it look like if Canada increased our foreign aid investment to match our peers and allies?

In order to get Canada back to the rich country average for foreign aid investments, and back to where we were in the mid-1990s when foreign aid suffered massive cuts, we will need to double our foreign aid. That’s ambitious! But, it’s also why we must stay grounded and keep our eye on the human impact we could achieve in developing countries.

Instead of talking about this issue from a “dollars in the budget”, and “Canada’s fair share” perspective based on our wealth as a nation (GNI: Gross National Income), or any other technical and jargon-filled way… we want to show you the impact Canada could have in the world, if we just stepped up our foreign aid to fulfill our commitments.

10 Areas of Impact

How can we discuss the effectiveness of Canada’s foreign aid that goes beyond a simple dollar value conversation? By making it about people!

If Canada stepped up, what could that mean to children who desperately need measles vaccines?
If Canada stepped up, how many families could we lift out of hunger?
If Canada stepped up, what would that mean for girl’s education and women’s rights?
Can we provide the nutrition to prevent stunted growth in infants and children? Yes!
Can Canadian expertise help restore farmland and communities affected by spreading desert? Yes!

Through programs supported by Canada, we fight preventable diseases, send girls to school, support vulnerable people during humanitarian crises. This positive impact will be displayed during International Development Week. But it is sometimes hard to communicate it to Canadians. There’s just so many different organizations doing amazing work in so many different areas. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by it all.

Over the course of the coming year, to help navigate through the complex and diverse field of international development, we’ll introduce you to the people affected by foreign aid and share their stories. Join us as we explore the human impact Canada can have, if we step up our foreign aid. Each month we will use a different impact as our guide on this journey.

Our interactive tool

We used detailed methodology and collaborated with subject matter experts to develop the 10 Areas of Impact. This is an illustration of what Canada *could* achieve if we stepped up. For the sake of simplicity, we calculated the difference between our current foreign aid investment and the amount it would take to get us to the doubling goal. We took that figure and split it equally into the 10 Areas to show an example of what Canada could do.

We are not arguing that these areas are more important than others, or that any increase should be split between each area.

You can get a glimpse of what it looks like here, and if you want to play around with how the extra funding could be allocated, use our interactive tool.


Let’s shift the conversation! Together, let’s start talking about the human impact if Canada stepped up. We will explore the potential laid out by the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

We are the North. If we step up, we can be the North Star that shines hope in the world! If you want to follow along as we share the 10 Areas of Impact, join our campaign.

If we step up, Canada can help millions more women and children, families and communities, and other people still living in extreme poverty. So, let’s use our voice to make sure we really #GoForTheGoals this week, this year, and beyond.

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