Canadians like to think we are a generous and compassionate people. But we rank only 16th of 22 aid donor countries. We are giving only 0.32% of our national income in development aid. That's less than half of the point seven per cent (0.7%) we keep promising to give and then failing to deliver. Donor nations and the UN all agree that 0.7% is the amount necessary to make serious progress towards alleviating extreme poverty in the world.
The Millennium Development Goals in which world leaders promised in 2000 to reduce poverty by half and make significant progress on 8 goals to improve health and education by 2015 will not be realized without a re-doubling of efforts. Canada needs to increase its aid to reach the 0.7% of national income UN aid target over 10 years.
Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden meet or exceed the UN target of 0.7% of Gross National Income. A number of other countries including France, the United Kingdom, Finland, Spain and Belgium have committed themselves to a timetable to achieving the 0.7% goal.
The donor countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development give an average of 0.47% of Gross National Income in aid. Canada at 0.32% is well below this average. In a recent election, the Conservative Party committed to increasing Canada's aid levels to reach the donor country average (which was then 0.42%). The Prime Minister has yet to deliver on this promise. The Netherlands, a much smaller country with a smaller economy, gives more total aid than Canada.
All we need to get to the point is politicians with the courage to keep their promises and give more in foreign aid. Please ask the Prime Minister and your local Member of Parliament to commit to a solid timeline to keep our promise on foreign aid.