Evidence of meeting #144 for Foreign Affairs and International Development in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was work.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Diane Jacovella  Deputy Minister, International Development, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Sarah Taylor  Director General, North Asia and Oceania, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Arun Thangaraj  Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Planning, Finance and Information Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Mark Gwozdecky  Assistant Deputy Minister, International Security and Political Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Heather Jeffrey  Assistant Deputy Minister, Consular, Security and Emergency Management, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Troy Lulashnyk  Director General, Maghreb, Egypt, Israel and West Bank and Gaza, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
Cheryl Urban  Director General, South America and Inter-American Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Is there a dedicated pool of resources for that?

10:05 a.m.

Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Planning, Finance and Information Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Arun Thangaraj

With respect to humanitarian resources, all of our humanitarian action is responsive. When we allocate funding to a humanitarian initiative, that is the lens that we apply, so we don't say for all of the humanitarian resources, we'll allocate a specific amount.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

You can see why I asked the question. This is a broader question that many are asking—many who have provided emergency assistance and many who have provided engineering assistance and water and sanitation. You've now got this feminist international assistance policy that supposedly overrides everything. The question is: Is there a set-aside, dedicated fund for that, or is all aid now only going to be about assisting women?

I think people are seeking greater clarity. The answer you're giving is exactly why people are puzzled about how that matches up with the new policy.

I won't push it any further but I think there still isn't certainty. There was an earlier question that I put to the minister and it's related to that. Questions have been raised about when we will actually see the more detailed guidelines on how we're delivering the action items under the new policy. That's one of the areas.

My other question is about international assistance for climate change and sustainable development.

The responsibilities in the cabinet appear to have gone from....The statute imposes the duty on the Minister of the Environment, with some responsibility now for the President of the Treasury Board. It jumps from minister to minister. Sometimes it is Minister Monsef and then it's Minister Duclos, who went to the UN meeting.

So far as the feminist international assistance policy is the override, and part of that deals with climate change and environment, who has the budget and who is taking the lead on delivering our commitments on sustainable development?

10:05 a.m.

Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Planning, Finance and Information Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Arun Thangaraj

The Minister of International Development has responsibility for climate change projects, as part of the $2.65-billion commitment, that take place in developing countries. Those are the projects that we deliver either bilaterally, country to country, or through our multilateral channels with development banks. We work very closely with Environment and Climate Change Canada on the overall approach. We often have to go to my colleagues at the Treasury Board Secretariat for approval of those initiatives, but it is a very coordinated approach. The Minister of International Development has specific responsibilities for the investments that fall under or that pertain to developing countries.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change signed the international—

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Michael Levitt

That's time.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Okay. If I have more time, I'd like to follow up.

It remains confusing.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Michael Levitt

Thank you.

We shall now move to MP Baylis, please.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Thank you, Chair.

I'd like to ask a question about foreign aid. I'd like to understand how we do a breakdown by geography of our foreign aid. Where are the pockets in that?

10:10 a.m.

Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Planning, Finance and Information Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Arun Thangaraj

We report on that through the OECD report. That's where we break down all of the government's official development assistance spending by country.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Okay. What are the top three countries where our foreign aid is going?

10:10 a.m.

Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Planning, Finance and Information Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Arun Thangaraj

Afghanistan is the largest recipient. Ethiopia and Haiti would be second and third.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

I'd like to understand this: Do we have some types of measures to decide the impact of that investment? What are the measures that we use to say we're giving x number of dollars to Afghanistan and y number of dollars to Haiti? How do you measure the impact of that money?

10:10 a.m.

Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Planning, Finance and Information Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Arun Thangaraj

As to the decision to even work with a country, there's an approach that analyzes the individual country context to determine what sectors we should be working with and what level of expenditure there should be, by country. We also look at what our colleagues in other donor countries are doing and what the local government is doing in those various sectors.

For each investment in a specific area—take health, for example—every initiative has a results framework that sits around that, that's embedded and that we report on. That rolls up into our overall departmental results framework, which is also aligned with the sustainable development goals. All of that foreign assistance spending and international development assistance spending is aligned at the very project level with higher-level results.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

On those countries that are big spends, was that a decision taken at the political level or just something that percolated up through the demands that came to your department, and your department decided this is a priority area? Is it top-down or bottom-up? How is it that Afghanistan is one, Ethiopia is two and Haiti is three?

10:10 a.m.

Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Planning, Finance and Information Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Arun Thangaraj

For every country, as I said, there's analysis based on what the country's needs are, by looking at our entire development assistance budget and what we can allocate across the portfolio of countries that we're involved in, and where our official development assistance makes the most difference. It's really that type of assessment—

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

It's not a political decision that says, “We want x amount of the money being spent in Afghanistan, or y amount.”

10:10 a.m.

Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Planning, Finance and Information Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Arun Thangaraj

The allocation of resources is really based on that individual country analysis and a country strategy.

May 30th, 2019 / 10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

It comes from the bottom up, then.

10:10 a.m.

Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Planning, Finance and Information Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

I'm trying to get my finger on the idea of how we are measuring that impact. I can see what you're saying within the silos. For example, Afghanistan has asked for this, Ethiopia has asked for that and Haiti has asked for a third thing. One asks for health, education, I don't know, development of a different type.

Are you measuring it against OECD criteria? You said for that $100 spent in place A or place B.... How do we actually measure the true impact across countries and across needs, if you will? One's in need of education; one's in need of health. So $100 goes to education in Ethiopia, another $100 for health in Afghanistan. How do we measure which is having a bigger impact, to make a decision on where to give it? I'm trying to get to the core of how you decide that this is what you're going to do, and this is what you're not going to do.

10:15 a.m.

Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Planning, Finance and Information Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Arun Thangaraj

In terms of an individual investment or an overall country—

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Yes, you have x amount of dollars.

10:15 a.m.

Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Planning, Finance and Information Technology, Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Arun Thangaraj

A specific investment has to be consistent with the country strategy. If we have x amount of dollars, if we're looking in Ethiopia, for example, we'll look at what their needs are, and what other donors do. Then we look at what investment will make the greatest impact. If it's in health and in a specific sector of health, we look at the results that we will achieve from this, and we work with our civil society partners or multilateral partners to determine what the impacts of those investments are.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Baylis Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

To simplify, you know that if you're going to give money here in Canada, they have these measures to ask. Is this a charity where 90% of its money is going through the system, or is only 50% making its way to the beneficiary? There are certain criteria that I would use when I'm asked to give money to one charity or another to see if my money is actually being put to work or being wasted. That's what I'm trying to get to, that measure.