April 9th, 2020
Letter to Minister Gould
Regarding Support for Canadian International Development and Humanitarian Organizations
Dear Minister Gould,
I write today to ask that you consider the devastating impacts the COVID-19 pandemic is having and will continue to have on Canadian humanitarian and international development charities and non-profit organizations. Many Canadian organizations work internationally to combat poverty, to ensure a rights-based approach to development, to provide food security and nutrition, and to assist communities as they tackle climate mitigation and adaptation. They help ensure that Canada continues to be a leader in gender equality and education, and they are playing a vital role in the global effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Critically, these organizations will be a key part of implementing Canada’s global COVID-19 response.
Recognizing that we are facing an unprecedented global crisis requiring an unprecedented global response, I urge you and the Government of Canada to use all tools at your disposal to ensure that Canadian development organizations are supported in the important work at this crucial time. Canada’s international response must be as thorough and impactful as possible.
Canadian charities have deep connections with partner organizations and the communities they serve, making them ideal partners to ensure that Canada’s COVID-19 response is effective and reaches the most vulnerable communities in the developing world – all through a feminist and human rights-based approach. These Canadian organizations can quickly and efficiently pivot their programming to meet global COVID-19 needs and they will be essential to ensuring that development efforts do not slide backwards, and we do not lose the development advances made in recent years.
I do recognize the importance of the announced contribution of $159.5 million for international efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic through our multi-lateral and bi-lateral partners. This investment is fundamental to our global response to COVID-19. Yet while I strongly support Canada’s commitment to our international partners, it is imperative that Canadian organizations are also provided support and opportunities to continue their efforts around the globe.
I strongly encourage you to support the Canadian international cooperation sector by ensuring that Canadian organizations can access additional dedicated COVID-19 overseas funds and by empowering organizations to use funds already provided by Global Affairs Canada through the Canadian Partnership Branch as flexibly as possible to respond to both humanitarian and development needs related to the COVID-19 crisis. Canada’s international development sector has the expertise to use these funds in the most appropriate way and is cognizant of both the diversity of needs and specificity of required responses that vary by region. As I am sure you are aware, organizations that have a history of doing this work on the ground are nimble, have long-term relationships with populations they work in solidarity with, and are best situated to understand the immediate and unique needs of particular communities during this crisis. Please ensure that these organizations have the opportunity to do their work effectively without hampering them with unnecessary limitations and restrictions at this critical time. The unprecedented reality of this global pandemic demands an unprecedented, flexible, and creative response.
I also ask you to ensure that Canada’s international cooperation and humanitarian sector be able to access the same federal initiatives offered to other charitable organizations. This important sector includes over 2,000 organizations, employs some 14,000 Canadians on a full-time basis, and invests over $5 billion annually to support global sustainable development and humanitarian assistance. The work done by the international sector is indispensable at a time of global upheaval. These organizations are suffering similar impacts to those of local charities and non-profits, perhaps even greater impacts as support for international efforts typically declines when Canadians turn to local initiatives.
Finally, as we have previously discussed, viruses and pandemics, do not recognize borders and we must all do our part to flatten the curve globally. Canada has an important role to play in ensuring countries around the world have the best tools to fight this battle. Canadian international development and humanitarian agencies are one of the keys to addressing COVID-19 on a global scale. I encourage the Government of Canada to ensure funding and support to organizations across Canada to inform and educate Canadians about our global efforts and drive home the message that all Canadians are safer when the world is safer.
I also encourage you to refer to the open letter sent to you and government colleagues by the Canadian Council for International Co-operation and four national coalition partners, and now undersigned by more than 200 organizations, for more ideas on how the Government of Canada can support and partner with Canadian international cooperation organizations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I look forward to working with you and the international cooperation and humanitarian organizations that are working tirelessly during these challenging times to respond to this global crisis. Please feel free to contact me at any time for support on these initiatives.
I wish the best of health to you and your family.