The longer I?m a Member of Parliament and the more I travel across Canada and to destinations around the world, the more I appreciate what a wonderful country we have and how fortunate we are to be Canadian.
I know that many constituents share my belief that we truly won the ?lottery of life? simply by being ?Canadian?. And as I?ve travelled around the riding this summer, I have continued to hear from people that they also believe we have a moral responsibility to help those less fortunate around the world.
The majority of Canadians support efforts to help countries struggling to make a better life for their people. It?s all part of our obligation as a contributing member of the global community. Yet taxpayers expect Canada?s international assistance to produce tangible results with their money spent wisely and responsibly.
Since coming to office our Conservative Government has undertaken an aggressive strategy to improve the focus and efficiency of all of Canada?s international assistance programs and increasing accountability to taxpayers. We want to ensure that developmental aid objectives not only extend compassion and share Canada?s good fortune, but also support our national interests and align with broader foreign policy goals in security, trade, development and diplomacy.
In Budget 2007, we committed to doubling Canada?s international assistance by 2010-11. Canadian aid to Africa alone will already be doubled as of next year. Canada?s total international assistance for this fiscal year is $4.1-billion. The following are some recent examples of Canada?s aid to nations and peoples in need:
$11.5-million to the Burma Cyclone Relief Fund and $30-million to the Sichuan (China) Earthquake Relief Fund.
An additional $48-million to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to help in the troubled region of Darfur. Canada is the fourth-largest donor to the mission with a total commitment of $441-million towards humanitarian assistance, peacebuilding projects, reconstruction efforts and support for AMIS.
$230-million in support of food aid programming for those in great need around the world. Plus, $400-million for development initiatives in Africa to strengthen economic growth, fight hunger and to provide basic services.
$111-million over the next three years for food aid, essential living needs, vaccinations and basic health care for the people of Afghanistan.
$10-million to UNICEF and the UN Population Fund to help offer quality HIV/AIDS prevention and other health services and programs in Honduras.
The list goes on and on and it signifies Canada?s recognition of the plight of people suffering through natural disasters, war, poverty, food shortages, and social unrest.
Plus, Canadians are increasingly choosing to take direct action themselves, including Canada?s youth, which dispels accusations that our younger generation is rife with apathy. A special federal website, Youth Zone, is helping these young Canadians to act on their desire to be active global citizens and to build upon their compassion and empathy for those less fortunate. It includes a section for teachers to help foster this caring attitude in the classroom.
For more information, go to: www.cida.gc.ca/youthzone. Further background on Canada?s global aid efforts can be found at the main website for the Canadian International Development Agency: www.cida.gc.ca.