Canada truly seemed to be back and here to help. A year after a recently elected Trudeau government made ambitious pledges at the Paris Climate Summit, Canada hosted the Fifth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, to which we pledged $785-million over three years.
This is a laudable commitment, and hopes are high that Canada is willing to take a lead in tackling important global issues such ending polio and fighting hunger. Unfortunately, Canada is on track to disappoint. Canada cannot truly be a leader on the world stage while its level of aid spending as a percent of gross national income remains below the OECD average. U.K. and five other countries spend at least 0.7 per cent of their GNI on aid, a target first proposed by former Canadian prime minister Lester Pearson. Meanwhile, Canada’s aid spending peaked 25 years ago at 0.46 per cent of GNI, and despite a government that has been far more vocal in its commitment to development and global engagement, aid currently sits at only 0.24 per cent. Already gaining a reputation for over-promising and under-delivery, the Trudeau government must act now to ensure that its accomplishments at the Paris Climate Summit and the Global Fund Replenishment Conference do not come to represent the peak of its new policy of global re-engagement, but merely its beginning. In order to be a true leader, Canada must commit to a timeline to increase aid to the 0.7 per cent goal.
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