Thank you very much.
Good afternoon. My name is Dina Epale, and I'm the public affairs officer at ACPD.
We work to ensure the full implementation of the UN International Conference on Population and Development, which was held in Cairo in 1994. There were 179 countries, including Canada, that agreed to fund programs addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and their families throughout the world.
ACPD works to advance reproductive and sexual rights and health at the international level, and we encourage Canada to incorporate reproductive and sexual rights and health into its foreign aid policies and programs. We also have an emerging focus on international migration and development.
I am here today to ask you to make strong recommendations to the government concerning its official development assistance and to take particular care to meet the needs of women, men, and children around the world by funding the sexual and reproductive health programs promised at the Cairo conference.
ACPD wants to commend the new government for its announcement with respect to the allocation of an additional $320 million for international aid in 2005-2006 and possible additional funding totalling $425 million over five years. We particularly want to voice our support for the announcement made by the government with respect to funding of $15.5 million over three years for the UNFPA's project to combat sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in response to an appeal in The State of World Population 2005.
We at ACPD are very encouraged by these funding announcements and the government's apparent commitment to an increase in international aid. However, despite its efforts, Canada lags behind other countries with respect to official development assistance, or ODA. Canada is among the 22 donors countries which have repeatedly promised to devote 0.7% of their gross national product to ODA by 2015. And yet, based on the OECD's preliminary analysis, Canada's net contribution for 2005 represents some 0.3% of its gross national income, or $3.7 billion US, placing it in 14th position among the 22 donor countries.
We certainly can do much better to achieve our ODA commitments and be a real leader in this competitive world, for a number of reasons. First, Canada continues to be the only G-7 country with a record surplus in 2003, 2004, and 2005 and a forecasted surplus of $8 billion in 2006. Second, the recently tabled 2006-07 government report on plans and priorities shows that the international assistance envelope is expected to be $3.8 billion in 2006-07 and $4.1 billion in the 2007-08 budget. Third, five countries today have exceeded the UN target of 0.7% GNI to ODA.
Canada can also position itself as a real leader in the world by supporting the very recent UN General Assembly's endorsement of a new target under goal five of the MDGs, which is to achieve universal access to reproductive health care by 2015. We have the opportunity to do this by using the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty MDG rally, which happens to be tomorrow, October 17, to address concrete measures and strategies to achieve our ODA targets and MDG goals.
In conclusion, the message from ACPD is simple and consistent with most of our past recommendations to this very committee. This committee is in a position to make strong recommendations to the Canadian government to: one, stand up and keep its promise to do its fair share to meet the millennium development goals; two, stand up and make its long-standing pledge to reach 0.7% of GNI to ODA a reality; and three, stand up and build on the resolution that was adopted in Parliament in 2005 calling on the federal government to set a plan to reach 0.5% of GNI to ODA by 2010, a baseline target of reaching a goal of 0.7% GNI to ODA by 2015.
I thank you for your time.