Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for raising this issue again. It gives me a chance to let Canadians know about the improvements this government has made in terms of international assistance and food aid in general.
This government believes in “compassion for the less fortunate”. The Minister of International Cooperation has been working diligently to ensure Canadian aid is delivered in a focused, efficient, accountable manner, and we are getting the job done.
Canadians can be proud that of all the developed countries in the world Canada is the second largest contributor to the World Food Programme. In fact, it is our compassion for the less fortunate that has guided our vision. As Oxfam said, “Canada is already one of the most generous donors to the [World Food Programme], and we are very pleased that Canada continues to show leadership to the world in responding to humanitarian crises as they arise”.
Since forming government we have met our commitment on food aid each and every year. It is through partnerships with organizations like the Canadian Foodgrains Bank that we are helping to address the global food shortage.
Jim Cornelius, executive director of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, said the fresh injections of funds will allow the bank to maintain food programs in such places as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, programs that were in danger of collapsing for lack of funds. He said:
It's not just a Band-Aid. This food aid now is critical because if people don't get food now, they will sell off productive assets, they take their kids out of school, they do all sorts of things that lead to further impoverishment.
The additional $50 million we announced, along with the untying of our food aid, will have an enormous impact on the world's most vulnerable. It is actions like this, our compassion for the less fortunate, that will make a difference to people in Africa, Afghanistan, South America and Haiti.
As the executive director of the World Food Programme said, “This generous contribution by Canada will help protect millions of children from severe malnutrition and hunger”.
Let me tell the member what untied food aid will do. It will make food cheaper when it is brought closer to hunger zones. Shipping costs will be reduced and local producers will be encouraged to build capacity to feed people. As we all know, tied aid is 30% less effective.
This is what Canada has done. It has untied 100% of its food aid.
If we look at what this government has dedicated to food aid this year, which is approximately $230 million, that translates into an additional $35 million more that will be used to directly purchase food for the less fortunate.
Once again, I want to thank the hon. member for the opportunity to discuss this issue she has talked about. We are all concerned about the rising food prices and Canada is doing its part.