The March 4, 2010 Federal budget increased Canada’s foreign aid or “International Assistance Envelope” by 8% for the 2010/2011 year. The government has said that it will review thereafter whether there is any increase. In light of the difficult financial circumstances in Canada this is a good news story. Hopefully the government will continue in future years to increase the budget as Canada is a wealthy nation and we are still far below the 0.7 gross national income target. There will also hopefully be greater transparency at CIDA and in the aid process so that Canadians and others can understand how their money is being spent and how decisions are arrived at to spend that money.
International Assistance Envelope
In 2002, Canada committed to double international assistance by 2010–11. Budget 2010 fulfills this commitment by increasing the International Assistance Envelope (IAE) by $364 million, or 8 per cent, in 2010–11, bringing it to $5 billion (Chart 4.1.3).
For planning purposes, the Government had provisioned for annual IAE growth of 8 per cent. With the achievement of the $5-billion aid target, future IAE spending levels will be capped at 2010–11 levels and will be assessed alongside all other government priorities on a year-by-year basis in the budget. Relative to the planning track that was assumed in the September 2009 Update of Economic and Fiscal Projections, which assumed automatic ongoing growth for international assistance spending of 8 per cent per annum, this results in savings of $438 million in 2011–12, rising to $1.8 billion by 2014–15.
International assistance remains a priority for the Government. Honouring the commitment to double our international assistance budget by 2010–11 will mean significant new ongoing resources to allow Canada to respond to global challenges with strong leadership, including support for reconstruction in Haiti and our G8 and G20 Summit priorities. More details on these initiatives can be found in Chapter 3.5.
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Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.