Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Regina—Lewvan for his question regarding Venezuela and Canada's work, which is ongoing and multilaterally done with the Lima Group.
Venezuelans continue to take to the streets, demonstrating their desire for a return to democracy even in the face of a violent crackdown. Canada commends their courage, and without any apology we continue to call on the Maduro regime to step aside now and allow for a peaceful end to the crisis, in line with the Venezuelan constitution. It is time for Venezuela, in line with its own laws, to return to democracy.
On January 23, Canada, along with several members of the international community, took the significant step of recognizing Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela and supporting his commitment to lead Venezuela towards free and fair presidential elections. We did that because we believe so strongly in democracy and in the democratic right of Venezuelans to choose their own government. Since that day, interim President Guaidó and Venezuelans have taken to the streets and demonstrated their support for the return of democracy in Venezuela, showing their courage and conviction in seeking a peaceful resolution to this crisis.
The response of the regime to those demonstrations has been an increase in the repression of peaceful demonstrators and in the persecution of political opponents. At the same time, the suffering of the Venezuelan people has continued to grow, with a series of nationwide power outages in recent weeks severely impacting the access of Venezuelans to necessities, including food, water and fuel.
Inflation now stands at 1.5 million percent on an annual basis, and more than 3.5 million Venezuelans have been forced to leave their country since 2015. The UNHCR now estimates that there could be as many as five million by the end of the year if the Maduro regime is not ended.
In response to this deepening crisis in Venezuela, Canada has taken a strong leadership role in the international community in support of international efforts to achieve a peaceful democratic transition guided by Venezuela's own constitution and without the use of force. Canada, led by our Minister of Foreign Affairs, has been among the most active and committed members of the Lima Group of countries committed to achieving these goals peacefully and multilaterally.
On February 4, Canada hosted the 10th ministerial meeting of the Lima Group here in Ottawa, and since that time, Canada has also played a leading role in the Lima Group's outreach, both to like-minded states as well as to international supporters of the Maduro regime, in order to secure a peaceful resolution of the crisis. There has been no lessening of our ability to be an honest broker. We are continuing in that role and continuing to do it with strong leadership and with a peaceful resolve towards democracy in Venezuela.
Canada and its Lima Group partners have repeatedly called upon the regime to allow the entry of international humanitarian assistance to stop this crisis. We have provided an additional $53 million for humanitarian, stabilization and development support, which brings our contribution to a world leader on this issue. We will focus on the basic needs of those most affected, those being migrants and refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries.
We have continued to take these strong measures. We will continue to work multilaterally, and we will continue to support the Venezuelan people towards freedom and democracy.