Evidence of meeting #72 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 dfi.

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

11:50 a.m.


Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

I totally agree with you that this is a very important issue.

To give you two examples, in Haiti we have a very significant project in terms of training police officers. This training includes gender-based violence behaviour on the way they act. Also, I was in the DRC recently. I visited what we call the “one-stop” project. We were giving medical and psycho-social assistance to women who were victims of violence, but also giving them access to justice through a lawyer and a police officer, and some of them were able to send the perpetrators to jail. That is one part.

You talked about the importance of having confidence in the system in terms of making investments. This is absolutely essential. Once again, in our governance, the sector of the feminist policy is also something that we are working on, because if we want economic growth, we have to provide investors the confidence that they can trust the system. It is something that we are working on in the governance part of it. In terms of the DFI, the projects that will be submitted to the DFI will definitely start where they have a certain level of confidence in the system.

11:50 a.m.


The Chair Liberal Bob Nault

Thank you, Mr. Genuis.

We'll go to Mr. Wrzesnewskyj, please.

September 28th, 2017 / 11:50 a.m.


Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you, Minister, for appearing before the committee today.

I have a series of questions that go to the structure and how we intend to actually deliver in the field.

Let me start by saying that it's tremendously encouraging to see this initiative and to see that it's being done within the framework of EDC. EDC is a rare example of doing important and good work. Also, EDC contributes back to the Treasury, to the tune of $800 million last year, which certainly allows us the opportunity to turn around and say that there are other areas where we could do good work such as this. It also uses the framework of EDC, which, as you said, allows us to launch without having to duplicate, add unnecessary layers of bureaucracy, or reinvent what has already been put in place.

Having said that, I know that many countries have similar programs, and there are very different models. First of all, do we have a list of countries? For instance, the U.S. does its work in 160 countries. Other countries have target countries, and they may do it only in a score of countries. Do we have a prioritized list? If so, do we have a prioritized list that breaks it down into countries that are war zones, for instance, such as Iraq and Afghanistan? Do we intend to do work in those sorts of countries? Are there countries that are conflict zones that we intend to do work in, such as Somalia, for instance? Are there countries that are post-conflict, such as Angola? How do we prioritize amongst those countries?

Also, there are several models of how these DFIs function. Some tie it back to in-country companies and have a requirement that.... For instance, the Brits don't require that British companies be involved. The Belgians, Finns, and Danes actually require that Belgian, Finnish, and Danish companies be involved. It's an interesting question, because it goes back to some of the comments that were made previously about offshore structure and extraterritoriality. If the model is that 100% can go in those countries, there is extrajudiciality. We don't have access to go to the courts to chase after this money, but if Canadian entities are involved, there is often a different government structure, first of all, and we have that ability.

That is a series of questions along those lines of how we intend to structure this, and then I have a final question. the briefing notes talked about small and medium-sized businesses. What portion will go to microfinancing? The model in that particular case would be quite different, because most likely that would be 100% local. Some of the greatest successes have been with microfinancing in agriculture. When you do a gender-based analysis, you see that it is so empowering for women in some of the poorest of countries, and there is little chance that this money will end up in some offshore structure.

It's a series of questions. Thank you.

11:55 a.m.


Marie-Claude Bibeau Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

On the first question, the list of the countries, first, only the countries eligible for ODA are on the list. We haven't made a priority list. We're talking about business. We want to bring investors to do business in developing countries. We will be I think more responsive in the choice of the countries, but still, we wouldn't want the full DFI going only to middle-income countries. We want to have an impact on the poorest and the most vulnerable, so some of the least developed countries should benefit from our DFI.

We will be proactive on this and have a reasonable share in the least developed countries. We also recognize that in the middle-income countries we have big pockets of poverty as well. We can still have a big impact on poverty and inequality if we invest in middle-income countries. Once again, it's about finding the right balance.

In crisis-affected countries, I guess we'll see the reaction and the interest in the projects that will be presented to us, but I will say that we would be proactive in this area specifically. When I say “we”, it's still the DFI in an independent way, and in our orientation I definitely want the least developed countries to be significantly included, but not exclusively, because, once again, we want to find the right balance between having an impact on development and being financially sustainable.

On Canadian companies, it will not be a prerequisite. Once again, we want to use EDC's expertise and Canadian networks to encourage and to be proactive and to do outreach with Canadian companies to get them into it. It's not exclusive, but we will work hard to have Canadian businesses involved and benefiting from the DFI.

On the SMEs, I see it from two sides. Let's say that for the Canadian SMEs, I think there are definitely business opportunities for them in developing countries, but as well for SMEs in developing countries that are also eligible for the DFI. When you talk about microfinancing, I would refer to my answer to Anita a bit earlier. There's definitely a significant impact on development if we economically empower women through microfinancing. The DFI wouldn't be doing the microfinancing itself, but supporting a project that is providing microfinancing to local organizations is definitely one area we want to look at.



The Chair Liberal Bob Nault

Thank you, Mr. Wrzesnewskyj.

Madam Minister, I want to thank you. This wraps up our opportunity to hear directly from you on where we're headed on DFI. I think you have the sense that our colleagues here are all very supportive of the concept of DFI and what it can do and are looking forward to a continuing involvement in seeing where this all goes over the long term. I want to thank you very much for giving us this opportunity to ask some questions.

We'll be submitting a report, as you know, to you and to the government, on our sense of the DFI and what we've heard from the witnesses over the last while. Again, on behalf of the committee, I thank you very much for making this presentation. We look forward to further events.

Colleagues, we'll take a break and be back in five minutes.

[Proceedings continue in camera]