This Canadian invention saves lives around the world…
50 years ago, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson created the global “fair share” target for foreign aid.
That number is 0.7% of a country’s national income. Yes, less than one percent. Another way to look at it is that countries meeting this goal would still spend 99.3% of their national wealth on themselves.
So, how much do you think Canada gives today? Are we doing our fair share?
How do you think we’ve measured up to other rich countries over time?
Draw your guess on the chart here:
Does the data below surprise you?
As Canadians, we’re proud of our leadership in the world! We see Canada as a unique peacekeeping nation that helps nations in crisis. We say that Canada should do its fair share to make the world a better place.
BUT, the numbers don’t back that up.
Since the 1990s, while other rich countries became more generous than Canada, and did their fair share, we fell behind. Our economy grew but our generosity didn’t. We still like to think that we “punch above our weight”, but for every $100 we make, our foreign aid only totals 28 cents.
Canada is below average.
Many people already know that countries like Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands do a better job of meeting the fair share target but they aren’t alone. Countries like the UK, Germany, and France are also much more generous than Canada.
As it stands, we spend 99.72% of our money on ourselves and on “problems here at home”. If we did our fair share and reached the 0.7% target, we would still spend 99.3% of our income here in Canada. Reasonable, right?
If the stats in this blog surprise you, you aren’t alone! A recent poll revealed that 81% of Canadians agree that Canada should do its fair share in supporting developing countries. However only 21% are aware that Canada is falling behind.
So, do YOU want Canada to do its fair share?
Share this chart with your friends! See if they know how Canada measures up.
Want to know more?
How much should rich countries like Canada spend on helping the world’s poorest countries?
This is a tricky question. Many people will say “charity begins at home”, that poverty exists here in Canada and this is what we should focus on first.
While this is true, many of the world’s problem do not stop at borders. Effective investments in foreign aid can really make a difference for Canada’s future.
Highly successful international initiatives, like the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria (which helped save 27 million lives since 2002), or Gavi—the Vaccine Alliance (which provided life-saving immunization to 760 million children from the poorest countries), depend on the support of donor countries like Canada.
Preparing your 5-year-old daughter to start school, knowing it will give her the necessary foundation to succeed and become who she wants to be in life, is a ritual that parents in Canada may take for granted. But around the world, there are still over 130 million girls of primary and secondary school age who do not have access to school.
What is Foreign Aid?
Foreign aid, or Official Development Assistance (ODA), is financial support given by donor countries like Canada to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries. Sometimes it means Canada supports humanitarian non-governmental organizations that work in countries where a disaster or a war has hit, like the Red Cross or Care. Other times, it goes through multilateral organizations like the Global Fund, Gavi, the UN, or the World Bank to help provide essential services like health or education in countries where too many people still can’t access them.
Around the world, Canadians support life-changing and life-saving projects with their contribution via the foreign aid budget.
So, how much should we give? It turns out that 50 years ago this month, in 1969, Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson came up with a recommendation that a country’s total ODA should be equal to 0.7% of their Gross National Income (GNI) — the statistical value representing the entire domestic economy. This is the accepted definition of a country’s ”fair share” in foreign aid.
The UN approved this “fair share” target in a UN resolution the following year. Since then, people around the world used it as a benchmark to monitor how well countries meet their “fair share” commitment.
But Canada has never reached the target set by our own Prime Minister.
In fact, in the most recent years, we have been moving away, and in 2018 spent only 0.28% of our GNI on ODA.
The last four Prime Ministers (Trudeau, Harper, Martin, and Chrétien) have struggled to reach even the halfway mark of Canada’s “fair share”.
The most we have ever given as a country was 0.54%, in 1975.
The UK reached the 0.7% target and even passed it as a law, which received cross-partisan support and was maintained in the government’s latest spending review.
France spends 0.43% and has committed to reach 0.55% by 2022—twice what Canada gives.
The average effort of the 35 rich countries providing data to the OECD is 0.38%.
Do you think Canada should do more to help? Tweet the leaders!
You can use your voice by tweeting Canada’s political leaders. Let them know that you think Canada should do its fair share.
You can also send a postcard to the Prime Minister, saying ‘I Care’ about ending world poverty. It only takes a few seconds!