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Evidence of meeting #41 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was million.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Michelle Doucet  Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services, Privy Council Office
Bill Pentney  Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Plans and Consultations, Privy Council Office
Marc Bélisle  Executive Director, Finance and Corporate Planning Division, Privy Council Office
Greta Bossenmaier  Senior Executive Vice-President, Canadian International Development Agency
Arun Thangaraj  Director General, Business Planning Resources Management and Systems, Canadian International Development Agency
Julia Hill  Director General, Planning, Operations and Specialists Directorate, Geographic Programs Branch, Canadian International Development Agency

5:20 p.m.

Director General, Business Planning Resources Management and Systems, Canadian International Development Agency

Arun Thangaraj

As I've stated before, the decrease in fragile countries is due to two factors. Mainly due to Afghanistan, the $6 million of funding, there is a small portion...when we have personnel abroad, we pay the Department of Foreign Affairs a certain amount because we don't have personnel abroad. There is a reduction that's associated with fragile countries.

With Canadian engagement, the reason there's a decrease in the previous main estimates...we had estimated an amount that would be spent for the Office for Democratic Governance. When we looked at our actual spending pattern, we had overestimated what should have been attributed to that program activity. So what you see in these main estimates and the reduction for Canadian engagement is just a reflection of that reduction. It reflects what the actual spending was last year.

When we're estimating what we're spending in future years, it's more reflective of what our actual spending is. It's the same thing for middle-income countries. It's an adjustment that we have internally that reflects spending patterns historically. So when we estimate what we're going to do for the upcoming fiscal year, we have those year-end adjustments.

April 30th, 2012 / 5:20 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Very well. Thank you very much.

I attended a conference on the millennium objectives in London. It was pointed out that for its part, Canada had changed its perspective and reduced tied aid considerably. Its commitment in this regard was acknowledged.

However, you say this in your presentation: “CIDA's sustainable economic growth strategy focuses on stimulating lasting, inclusive and sustainable economic growth”. You also refer to creating employment and economic opportunity. I must acknowledge that I may have been a bit hard on one of the groups of witnesses. I had some direct things to say to one individual who represented a large international company and was preaching to developing countries. This individual was asking them to be very welcoming toward foreign investors.

In light of this strategy, I wonder if you will be able to reassure me with regard to CIDA's commitment, and assure me that you will not be asking the countries we want to help to meet objectives that are related to private Canadian investors.

5:20 p.m.

Director General, Planning, Operations and Specialists Directorate, Geographic Programs Branch, Canadian International Development Agency

Julia Hill

It will be my pleasure to do that. I don't have the French document before me and so I am going to translate this one; it may not be precise.

Our sustainable economic growth strategy has several components. The first is to ensure that the policy and institutions in the country in question are really robust, that they respect the law, that there is political stability, etc.

As for infrastructure, we want it to be solid, but here again, our aid is not linked to Canadian interests. The projects can go forward, and those that offer the best project at the best price will be selected.

We also want to ensure that the workers are well trained. We focus on young people particularly, because not having work causes enormous difficulties for them. This is a very important component.

The role of women is also very central. It must be clear that when it comes to economic development, women must take their place. In February of this year, a conference that was sponsored by the minister focused on sustainable economic development for women in particular.

Then there is agriculture. In developing countries, a large part of production comes from agriculture. Here again, this is not linked to our own agricultural products.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Do I have any time left, Mr. Chair?

5:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

You're well over time, Raymond, I'm sorry.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Okay.

Merci beaucoup.

5:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

Thank you very much.

For our final round we will go to Ron Cannan.

You have five minutes, Ron, if you like.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to our witnesses for being here.

As a Rotarian, one issue that's near and dear to our international club is the eradication of polio. It's down to three countries left with endemic polio.

I'm just wondering if there is ongoing partnership with Rotary International, if there is funding provided.

5:25 p.m.

Director General, Planning, Operations and Specialists Directorate, Geographic Programs Branch, Canadian International Development Agency

Julia Hill

I'm trying to think off the top of my head....

Certainly we've had a major initiative in Afghanistan that has been quite successful. Pakistan has also been touched, because of course they're contiguous regions.

Most of our support to polio is through the United Nations systems. I am less familiar with that component because I work more in the geographic area.

Unless one of my colleagues has more to offer, I would happily come back with a written response.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Okay. I appreciate that. I know that the international conference is next month in Thailand, so they're continuing to focus on that initiative.

With regard to funding to Africa, one of the other club members has been working in the Horn of Africa. One of the commitments we had in Canada was to double our aid.

Maybe you could elaborate a little bit on how successful we have been in accomplishing that goal compared to the rest of the world.

5:25 p.m.

Director General, Planning, Operations and Specialists Directorate, Geographic Programs Branch, Canadian International Development Agency

Julia Hill

Those of us who work anywhere in international development are very proud that Canada is known for keeping its commitments.

As far as doubling aid to Africa, we met that objective in 2009-10. We have maintained that level. On our aid going forward, as Ms. Bossenmaier mentioned in her opening remarks, 80% is still targeted at Africa, particularly for maternal, newborn, and child health.

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Congratulations to all of you for accomplishing that. It's something we all should be proud of as Canadians. I know I am.

I had an opportunity, with my wife, to spend some time working in a children's orphanage in Brazil. Working with NGOs is one of the successes of our government—working in a higher concentration, keeping the money out of corrupt governments, and getting into the private sector, to non-government organizations that are very successful.

Maybe you could give us an update on Haiti. I know there is very caring compassion and generosity displayed by Canadians in the matching of contributions. I know in your opening comments you indicated about $400,000 to the food program and some other initiatives as well.... Perhaps you can enlighten us. Thank you.

5:25 p.m.

Director General, Planning, Operations and Specialists Directorate, Geographic Programs Branch, Canadian International Development Agency

Julia Hill

Yes, I'll be happy to.

Haiti is one of our 20 countries of focus, of course. It's our biggest program, and it has been a long-term priority for the Government of Canada. It has been our largest aid recipient for the past three years, but it was always amongst the top. A lot of progress has been made in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake, and more than two-thirds of displaced people have now left the camps.

Our work in Haiti is producing tangible, measurable results, and that's part of the system I was referring to earlier. We can say that approximately 400,000 Haitians now have access to credit and financial services. That's very important under the sustainable economic growth component we were discussing earlier.

In Haiti, 330,000 women delivered their children with the assistance of qualified medical professionals; over a million Haitian boys and girls are receiving nutritious meals daily; and 4.8 million Haitians have been registered in Haiti's civil registry, which gives them access to essential services. I think those of us who live in a country where we take that for granted can't underestimate the importance of actually having an identity and being registered in a registry.

We're working very closely with the Government of Haiti and our development partners to make sure that efforts are coordinated, effective, transparent, and accountable. There are a lot of people in Haiti. We need to make sure we're not doubling efforts, missing gaps, and wasting resources.

Through the Haiti earthquake relief fund—with the catchy title of the HERF—the Government of Canada matched donations of $220 million made by individuals to eligible registered Canadian charities. The HERF is now 99% disbursed, and the remainder of about $3 million will be disbursed in the course of this fiscal year.

A lot of additional work we have done, of course, is urgent humanitarian assistance to Haiti immediately following the earthquake. There was an additional $400 million committed over two years for reconstruction, and we have met that commitment.

We have three thematic priorities in Haiti. We work in sustainable economic growth, food security, and the future of children and youth.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

That's a very impressive checklist. Thank you very much on behalf of all Canadians. We know that we are blessed with the greatest country in the world, so it's good that we can play a little part. There's more to be done and we'll continue to do our best.

Thank you very much.

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

Thank you, Ron, and thank you, Ms. Bossenmaier, for being with us today and making this presentation. We appreciate it very much. To you and your colleagues, that was very helpful. Thank you.

We are adjourned.