In this article from Embassy Magazine entitled “Aid to Focus on Needs During Downturn: Oda”, Bev Oda, the Minister of International Cooperation who is responsible for CIDA provides some very interesting insights into questions that many have wondered about in terms of the direction of CIDA.  For those who want to understand CIDA this article is very useful.  The article by Lee Berthiaume covers many issues including why aid was not discussed in last budget, doubling aid to Africa, Food Aid Convention commitments, untying of aid, relative importance of Africa versus South America, and aid effectiveness.

Doubling Aid to Africa but not 0.7% of GDP
“There’s a firm commitment that we will be, as was committed, doubling our international aid. We will meet the target of doubling aid to Africa. The eight per cent is ongoing. So nothing has changed despite the economic downturn.”

Effectiveness

“We will also continue on with our effectiveness agenda, which means increasing the value that we see of our dollars being used, increasing the results that we’ll be seeing and the difference we will actually make using our Canadian dollars. We believe that there’s still more that can be done on the effectiveness.”

There are lots of interesting points in the article but in these tough time I liked Bev Oda’s answer to the last question:

Question: “Given the state of the economy, some would ask why we are continuing to increase our aid dollars. They would say we should focus on fixing ourselves first before we can go abroad.”

“I don’t think Canadians believe that, truly. I believe that Canadians also understand that they’re going to face some difficult times, but Canadians have also been very compassionate and generous, and very sensitive to the rest of the world. And they understand that we’re very fortunate to live in Canada, and consequently this economic crisis is going to have a severe impact on others. And as you can probably imagine, for a large part of the Canadian population, these are families back at home, these are friends, these are neighbourhoods that they are familiar with. So I don’t believe that Canadians see it as an either-or situation. My own personal experience is I think Canadians feel when they’re going through hard times, their generosity increases in view of what other’s needs are.”

The full article can be found at:
http://www.embassymag.ca/page/view/oda-2-4-2009

Mark Blumberg is a lawyer at Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto, Ontario.  He can be contacted at mark@blumbergs.ca or at 416-361-1982 x. 237. To find out more about legal services that Blumbergs provides to Canadian charities and non-profits please visit the Blumbergs’ Non-Profit and Charities page at www.blumbergs.ca/non_profit.php or www.globalphilanthropy.ca