94% of Canadians agree that it is important to improve health, education and economic opportunity for the world’s poorest, according to a new report, “Canadian Perspectives on International Development,” co-launched by the Inter-Council Network of Provincial and Regional Councils for International Cooperation (ICN) and Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB).
The report is based on a new public opinion poll undertaken in February 2015 by the ICN and EWB in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The poll affirms that there is a national consciousness in Canada about global poverty reduction, with 76% of Canadians agreeing that we have a moral obligation to help expand health, education, and economic opportunity for the world’s poorest. It also confirms that Canadians want our country to be a global leader in providing support for international development.
“62% of Canadians said they want this government to take a leadership role in global poverty reduction,” said Jacqui Wasacase, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation. “This means meaningful, dedicated, transparent actions with an eye to our post 2015 agenda.”
The poll results indicate that Canadians have a good grasp of how much the government currently spends on foreign aid, and that 46% of Canadians believe the government should spend more.
However, Budget 2015 contains no announcement to improve Canada’s performance in aid spending. Canada’s international reputation has suffered in recent years as Canada’s contribution to aid spending, as a percentage of Gross National Income (GNI), has fallen steadily from 0.34% to 0.24% – a far cry from the United Nation’s target of 0.7% of GNI.
The poll results also suggest that Canadians believe that helping at home and abroad are not mutually exclusive. Canadians know that when it comes to our international aid budget, a little goes a long way. Respondents believe that the amount spent on aid can achieve a disproportionately large impact, and support increasing our international aid budget, which is currently at one third of the UN target level.
“Canadians know that we can do better,” said Wasacase. “We join with them in asking our Government to do more at this pivotal time, as we approach a new international development agenda in 2015.”
The findings of this 2015 poll demonstrate that the majority of Canadians are aware of and concerned about global poverty. Canadians want their country to play a leadership role in improving health, education and economic opportunities for citizens of the world’s poorest countries.