How Will International Development Figure into Budget 2016?

Tomorrow at 4:00 pm EST Minister of Finance Bill Morneau will deliver the Government’s first Budget of the 42nd Parliament, and we will be watching for what isand is notincluded.  There is great speculation about how much of the Liberal election platform will feature and what the financial size of the investments might be within, and we expect this Budget should set the stage for the Government’s direction on international development.

 

This Government has showed promise in reclaiming Canada’s position as a leader in the global sphere, and both the Prime Minister and his Cabinet have already been publicly engaged on the development file. For instance, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie Marie-Claude Bibeau has already begun a series of roundtable discussions on humanitarian assistance and long-term development that will likely extend into the summer. And since October, they’ve addressed a suite of issues including:

 

 

Does this mean that we anticipate foreign assistance to play a prominent role in Budget 2016? In short, no. But there are a few things we will be looking for in tomorrow’s Budget. For instance:

  1. Increased Official Development Assistance (ODA): Canada needs to match its new public leadership stances with new funding. To achieve the ambitious agenda, a commitment to stable increases to the overall ODA Budget along with innovative financing measures are critical. We will see the ODA envelope jump due to Syrian refugee resettlement, as initial costs are counted toward the overall aid budget, but we will be looking to see what the amount of ODA funding going to combatting poverty will be once these costs are subtracted.

  2. Greater Transparency: Aside from refugee resettlement figures, which will add more than $600M to the total, it is not likely that the Budget will significantly increase the ODA envelope. But given the number of commitments that have already been made, where will that funding come from? Will commitments draw from a declined ODA envelope or will there be new, additional funds?  Will the Government’s commitment to openness and transparency extend to the International Assistance Envelope (IAE) in the new Budget? The Government has the chance to once again make the IAE, the portion of the ODA budget dedicated to combatting poverty in developing countries, public. This would be a significant step towards greater transparency, given statistics have not been available since 2010.

  3. Commitment to the poorest and most vulnerable: We will be looking to see whether the Government continues to highlight its commitment to focusing on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people and those living in fragile and conflict contexts.

  4. Private sector participation: Finally, we will also be looking to see whether there is any mention of the private sector or innovative finance measures that leverage ODA funding to achieve development outcomes.

 

Whatever we see in tomorrow’s Budget, we welcome the Government’s public leadership on a range of issues, the extent to which they have engaged young Canadians, as well as their willingness to consult with a range of stakeholders on a new policy and funding framework, which we anticipate will be completed before the end of the year.

 

Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Bibeau have, on several occasions, stated that the Government will recommit to International Development as part of an international re-engagement strategy. While we may be waiting beyond tomorrow for the ambitious funding needed to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, we have already seen early indications of principled leadership and several humanitarian and long-term development commitments. But we may have to redouble our efforts and set our sights on Budget 2017 to know whether Canada is truly back.  

 


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