The coincidence of Budget 2022 falling on World Health Day is not lost on us. The link between global health, development, and our prosperity has never been clearer. Two and half years into this global pandemic we have all seen fractured health systems, halted national economies, and disrupted global supply chains, not to mention the over 6 million people and counting who lost their lives.
Global health security requires sufficient and predictable investment from countries like Canada. World Health Day and a federal budget could have been a perfect day to answer that responsibility.
Once again, we have some things to celebrate and some things we need to keep pushing for more from the Government.
Let’s start with the good.
ONE supporters and our partners, allies, and fellow advocates pushed hard for Canada to step up and invest our fair share in the global mechanism to get vaccines, tests, and treatments to people in need. The Budget pledged a renewed investment of $732 million in the ACT-Accelerator (Access to COVID-19 Tools – Accelerator) and the additional $296 million over 4 years for global health security. These two investments are a win! Let’s celebrate the hard work that got the Government to this point.
Prime Minister Trudeau also announced that $220 million of this new investment would go to COVAX, the ACT-Accelerator’s vaccine arm. This will help ensure that more vaccines can be purchased in the future if needed, but crucially will support the logistical and health system infrastructure needed to deliver those vaccines to arms.
This much needed investment is about 93% of Canada’s fair share of the ACT-Accelerator needs for 2022.
We had asked Canada to invest another $1.1 billion, so we are hoping to see further investments to directly support countries with their vaccine delivery campaigns, because only 1% of doses administered have been in low-income countries. We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: if the vaccine isn’t everywhere, this pandemic isn’t going anywhere.
Then it gets tricky.
We want to acknowledge that the Budget increased Canada’s investment in international development. Which is good! We are moving in the right direction. But, we also have to acknowledge that the increases are falling short of our fair share and short of what we wanted to see.
This Budget moves to increase overall international assistance – in a time of converging crises: conflict, COVID, and climate – with an increase to $8.15 billion. That means Canada’s investment in development would be roughly 33 cents for every $100 of national income. That’s up from 27 cents pre-pandemic, but well short of the rich country average, and below half of Lester B. Pearson’s target of 70 cents (which countries like the UK, Germany, and more have reached)!
We must prepare for what is to come. The past two years of pandemic have absolutely devastated the gains we made globally in development over decades. The world is off track to meet its goals across almost every sector, with extreme poverty increasing for the first time in decades. We cannot afford to focus on one disease at a time. We must fight COVID, HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, and polio.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has exacerbated a serious global food crisis. This will increase malnutrition and hunger on the African continent which is highly dependent on wheat coming from the region. Conflict in other regions continues to rage. We’re seeing humanitarian catastrophes and a swelling number of refugees. The climate emergency is ever growing impacting health, security and the economy, and report after report tells us we are at a breaking point from which we can’t return.
Where we go from here.
We can celebrate the wins we achieved and the increase in investment, but we must do our fair share to prepare for what is next. We know that the world is best prepared when as many people as possible, in every country across the world, have as much protection and early warning as possible.
The Budget and the international assistance investment make a move to respond to these crises and will help us play catch-up on the last two years where development gains have been lost – but we’re still well behind our peers. Canada needs to step up with significant and sustained investments to respond to the converging crises in climate, conflict, and global health. If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that we need to be prepared. We’ve seen Canada move in the right direction with Budget 2022 and over the last two years – and we’re here to celebrate that, but we must continue to push for better. Canadians know that where you live should not determine whether you live.