If one is interested in international development in Canada CIDA is hard to ignore, and one would not want to ignore CIDA, the Canadian International Development Agency.  It spends about 4 billion per year on international development in bilateral, multilateral and partnership areas.  In the last budget Canada will increase its ODA commitment by 8% this year, which although less than some would want, is a significant amount in these difficult times.  I have been looking for information on CIDA and I am finding it really hard to find that information.  Not sure what I am missing but I thought that I would blog a little about CIDA and see what I will find out.  For a government department spending $4 billion there is surprisingly little on the web, except that which is placed on the CIDA website, or information put out by organizations that receive substantial amounts of CIDA funding.  Even then the information is often very basic.

For example, CIDA recently announced that its bilateral (government to government) aid was going to be focused on 20 countries.(https://www.canadiancharitylaw.ca/blog/canada_narrows_focus_of_countries_for_cida_aid_as_part_of_aid_effectiveness/)  I think that focus is a good thing.  But I have not been able to find out what the rationale was for picking certain countries and excluding others.  I am sure that there is good justification, I just cannot find it.  Also I got the geography award in high school (yes that makes me a geek) but 20 countries includes the “Caribbean”?  More interestingly, when did “West Bank/Gaza” become a country?  Do I need to call CIDA to ask?  Would it not be more efficient for the rationale just to be provided with the announcement? Why is so little written about such an important government program such as CIDA?  CIDA just made a huge announcement on TB funding – $125 million.  Why did almost no one have anything to say about what seems like quite a major investment in a disease that kills so many people?

CIDA in its 2009-2010 Reports on Plans and Priorities provides some useful information on CIDA.

“CIDA’s mission is to lead Canada’s international efforts to help people in poverty and in crisis build better lives for themselves and their communities.”

CIDA has two strategic outcomes:

1) international development goals consistent with Canadian foreign policy objectives – poverty reduction in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and democratic governance objectives.
2) sustained support and informed action by Canadians in international development.

In 2009–2010 it plans on spending 3.2 billion.  It has 1,905 full time equivalent staff.

Here is the CIDA report:

CIDA has a number of different parts including:

Canadian Partnership Branch co-invests with Canadian voluntary and private sector organizations to strengthen local civil society and private sector entities to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development.
Sectors and Global Partnerships Branch leads CIDA’s relationships with multilateral organizations and international and global partnerships and is responsible for delivering high quality, needs based humanitarian assistance and early recovery programs.
The Geographic Programs Branch leads the Agency’s engagement in countries and regions where CIDA has programs and is responsible for the effective delivery of geographic programs.
Strategic Policy and Performance Branch provides strategic policy advice, integrated planning and performance management and strategic support to sectoral and geographic programming.
Corporate Operations is responsible for the management of CIDA’s human, financial, information and physical assets.

Recent interview with Bev Oda, the Minister of International Cooperation who is responsible for CIDA, in Embassy Magazine entitled “Aid to Focus on Needs During Downturn: Oda” provides some very interesting insights into questions that many have wondered about in terms of the direction of CIDA.  The full article can be found at:

If you are interested in some of the CIDA expenses you can find them at:

For example we find out that the CIDA president Margaret Biggs had “Breakfast with the President of the International Development Research Centre” Date(s): 2008-09-30
Attendees: 1 guest,1 Government of Canada employees Location: CIDA headquarters, catered by Tim Hortons   TOTAL: $6.53” 

Here is an article in the Ottawa citizen talking about CIDA having problems. CIDA “is facing criticism from all sides and pressure to shift direction and overhaul the way it delivers its aid and development programs…”

Here is a letter to the Editor of the Ottawa Citizen responding to the above article:

Here is an article from Maclean’s magazine on CIDA:


Here is an attempt to review aid policies from many countries entitled “The Reality of Aid Reports 2008 Aid Effectiveness: Democratic Ownership and Human Rights” (347 pages):

There have been a number of Office of the Auditor General of Canada reports on CIDA including:

2005 February Status Report of the Auditor General of Canada

2000 October Report of the Auditor General of Canada

1999 November Report of the Auditor General of Canada

ODA Act ‘Better Aid Bill,’
Here is the text: http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/stat/sc-2008-c-17/latest/sc-2008-c-17.html

Library of Parliament “Notes on Bill C-293: An Act respecting the provision of official development assistance abroad (Official Development Assistance Accountability Act)

If you are interested in grants and contributions of Canada (including CIDA) and other Northern countries you can find the AiDA (Accessible Information on Development Activities) database useful at:


You can search by country (Canada), funder (CIDA, IDRC etc), type (bilateral, multilateral, foundation, etc), country of the program, sector of work.  It goes as far back as the 1960s.  There is also additional details on each of the amounts.  AiDA is the largest online directory of official development aid activities with over 500,000 planned and archived projects and programs.  It was prepared by Development Gateway Foundation, in cooperation with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations Development Program, and the World Bank.


Ottawa set to revamp foreign aid policy by John Ivison, National Post

John Ivison: Africa loses ground to trade-rich Latin America among Ottawa’s aid priorities


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 http://www.blumbergs.ca/non_profit.php, https://www.canadiancharitylaw.ca or http://www.globalphilanthropy.ca