Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the members of this committee.
Good afternoon, everyone.
I'm here to speak with you today about Canada's international development portfolio. Before I begin, I want to address the current situation in Ukraine.
President Putin's invasion of Ukraine is a blatant attempt to replace the international rules-based order with a world where might makes right. This is an attack that undermines international law. This is an attack that undermines the efforts of the United Nations. I want to be clear: Ukraine is not Russia. The people of Ukraine must be free to determine their own future. We will stand alongside our Ukrainian sisters and brothers.
This pandemic has also shown us that, as a global community, we can come together during times of crisis to protect the lives of those who are threatened. Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have seen the first increase in extreme poverty in more than two decades, showing that we need to coordinate global action for long-term and sustainable solutions to overcome growing poverty and inequality. We need to improve food security and nutrition and expand education and job creation. We need solutions that focus on disadvantaged and marginalized groups, especially women and girls, who throughout the pandemic have been disproportionately affected. Women and girls have too often been responsible for caregiving duties during this pandemic, losing years of schooling and income.
As I said last week at the United Nations General Assembly, it is easy to look around at cities in the west and think that the pandemic that has ravaged our world is over, but what has been true for the west has not been true for the rest. The colour of your skin should not determine how long you must wait to receive a life-saving vaccine.
We all have a part to play to end this and to ensure equitable vaccine access. That is why Canada has been a leading donor to help end this pandemic. Canada has committed over $2.7 billion in international assistance to provide emergency health care and support increased disease surveillance and infection prevention. Canada has supplied water, sanitation and hygiene to help keep children in school. Just about half of these funds, $1.3 billion, has helped provide more equitable access to COVID-19 medical supports, from oxygen to personal protective equipment. Canada has made available 100 million doses through COVAX and bilateral donations.
We know that donations are not enough. Canada is supporting low- and middle-income countries to accelerate the distribution and production of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines in-country. Providing this support helps these countries build resilience to future health crises.
I also want to take a moment to talk about the importance of our feminist international assistance policy. This policy, created back in 2017, is extremely personal to me. I have seen what it means when you give women and girls real and meaningful opportunities. It was the opportunity my sister received when she came to Canada. She eventually became a Harvard graduate because of this, but she started going to school sitting underneath a tree. Since we adopted our feminist international policy back in 2017, we have increased our investment in initiatives that target gender equality by over 600%—from $86 million in 2017 to $610 million in 2020-21.
I also would like to take a moment to speak to our ongoing commitment to address the record levels of humanitarian need across the world. Canada's assistance has provided meaningful, timely and life-saving assistance to those most desperately in need. In 2021 Canada provided $43 million to meet humanitarian needs in Ethiopia. Since August 2021, Canada has allocated $106 million in humanitarian assistance in response to the desperate conditions facing many Afghans. We continue to work with key partners to find sustainable development solutions for Afghans, while ensuring that the rights of women and girls are at the heart of everything we do.
Mr. Chair and committee members, our government remains committed to building a better world—a world that is more equal, a world that is more just and a world that we all deserve to live in. Through our work and our international assistance efforts, Canada is achieving results, building a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous world for all.
I look forward to your questions. Thank you.