Reacting to the 2023 Federal Budget

Reacting to the 2023 Federal Budget

On April 4, 2023, Cooperation Canada organized a panel discussion to examine Canadian aid trends, reflect on the 2023 Federal Budget, which was tabled on 28 March, 2023, and discuss its connections with the global cooperation architecture. The panel, moderated by Kate Higgins, CEO of Cooperation Canada, comprised of Aldo Caliari (Jubilee USA), Nilima Gulrajani (ODI), Idee Inyangudor (Wellington Advocacy), Elise Legault (ONE Campaign), and Brian Tomlinson (AidWatch Canada).

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In the first part of the event, Brian Tomlinson presented an overview of trends in Canada’s international assistance, describing the various funding flows, the government agencies delivering international assistance, the implementing agencies, and the breakdown of Official Development Assistance (ODA) by components, including development, humanitarian assistance, climate finance and in-donor refugee and student costs. The presentation highlighted that the addition of COVID-19 spending and in-country refugee costs increased Canada’s ODA, but when these components were removed, funding for development decreased between 2019 and 2021. This downward trend was confirmed by Budget 2023, which projects an international assistance envelope of $6.8 billion, a 15% cut from the international assistance budget committed in Budget 2022, a decision heavily criticized by Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) working in international cooperation and humanitarian assistance.

Following the presentation, the panel acknowledged that the 2023 Federal Budget, though expected to be fiscally prudent, was a missed opportunity for Canada to demonstrate global leadership. The possibility of off-cycle funding announcements in the coming months neither mitigates the sector disappointment, nor constitutes sound public policy, unless Canada decides to transparently present the federal budget as a floor rather than a ceiling. As the defence budget is growing, it was proposed that one way Canada’s feminist vision could be better demonstrated could be to adopt a lock-step approach, aligning defence and development spending.

Putting Budget 2023 in a global perspective, panel members noted the imperative to regain the ground lost during the COVID-19 pandemic and make faster progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The current global financial system is clearly not fit for the multiplicity of shocks facing the planet. On the one hand, OECD countries are pressured to address inflation and focus on domestic needs. On the other hand, developing countries grapple with an escalating debt burden resulting from the combination of insufficient concessional finance, forced reliance on expensive private lending to meet their basic needs, slow deployment of pledged climate finance, and limited access to the Special Drawing Rights, the reserve asset maintained by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).




Against this bleak backdrop, the panel agreed that new models of resource mobilization are urgently needed. This requires going beyond the narratives advocating for aid increases and exploring ways to do more with available resources, including dormant private capital. In terms of blending public and private resources for development, Canada has been playing catch-up for too long, with FinDev not delivering on expected results. Canada should become more strategic in leveraging private sector instruments as soft power assets.

The panel closed with remarks about what lies ahead for international cooperation actors globally and in Canada. The inadequacy of the international assistance architecture is acknowledged by many, including the OECD – Development Assistance Committee (DAC), in their most recent report, Debating the Aid System. There are emerging perspectives departing from the mainstream North-South development dichotomy and embracing the view of development as a global reality shared by all countries. One such narrative proposes to reframe ODA as a distributed investment in global public goods. Given this and other emerging perspectives challenging the paternalistic aid approach, international cooperation actors in Canada, in particular CSOs, should take the opportunity to engage in broader development conversations about the quantity and quality of aid, refocusing their attention on development outcomes.

Cooperation Canada looks forward to continuing to convene conversations on these critical issues as we work to position ourselves, and support others, to be relevant and effective partners in contributing to a fairer, safer and more sustainable world.



Carelle Mang-Benza

Carelle Mang-Benza

Policy Lead

Budget 2023 Undermines Canada’s Standing in the World as Government Backpedals on Aid Commitment, Says Coalition of NGOs

Budget 2023 Undermines Canada’s Standing in the World as Government Backpedals on Aid Commitment, Says Coalition of NGOs

Ottawa – March 28, 2023: At a time of enormous need globally, the Canadian government has failed to deliver on its promise to increase foreign aid every year. As part of the Federal Budget 2023, the government declined to announce new investments for any international aid programs.

The coalition of 90 NGOs – representing a wide-range of development, humanitarian, environmental and advocacy groups – said that compared to Budget 2022, the overall international assistance funding was cut by no less than $1.3 billion – a 15% cut. The decision by the government to cut foreign aid comes amidst a world facing multiple crises around climate change, hunger, conflict and an erosion of human rights and democratic values.

“The word of the day is ‘undermine’,” said Kate Higgins, CEO of Cooperation Canada that represents over 95 organizations working on development and humanitarian assistance in countries around the world. “This budget undermines Canada’s standing in the world, it undermines progress on sustainable development, and it undermines our security. At a time when the world faces compounding global crises, Canadians expect their government to commit to bold global leadership. This budget does not deliver on this.”

In recent months, a sustained campaign by the international cooperation sector urged the government to prioritize funding commitments towards programs promoting gender equality, health, education, food security and nutrition, climate adaptation, and social justice.

In a letter to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland in February 2023, more than 75 aid agencies emphasized the importance of foreign aid as a smart investment in global security and prosperity. They called on the government to commit to a predictable, three-year increase to reach $10 billion by 2025. Budget 2023 is lacking that clarity and predictability on how the government will be increasing its foreign aid envelope annually.

Elise Legault of the ONE Campaign added: “Canada has been there for Ukraine, but we are now letting other countries down. Canada’s commitments in today’s budget not only fail to meet this call but actively threaten progress as we know it. We made a promise to the world to increase international assistance every year, and instead there is a 15% cut in the middle of an unprecedented food crisis and countries crumbling under the effects of climate change. This isn’t the leadership that Canadians or the world expects.”

The coalition said they are hopeful that more funds will come later in the year, as this budget blatantly failed to announce new investments. For example, the government indicated its intentions to renew its historic investments for girls education globally made at the G7 in Charlevoix in 2018. Without that renewed investment, four million girls and young women around the world are left with an uncertain future as Canadian-supported education projects will end in the coming months.

“Canada has been a champion of women’s and girls’ rights, but the Feminist International Assistance Policy is an empty promise if Canada fails to back it with concrete actions and resources,” says Julia Anderson of CanWaCH, a coalition of organizations working on women’s and children’s health and rights. “At a time when the world is calling on Canada to step up and deliver on the vision and leadership it promised, this government chose to step down.”


Contact Information:

Louis Belanger – Bigger than our Borders – 613-265-4417

Sabrina Grover – One Campaign – 403-614-6498

Gabriel Karasz-Perriau – Cooperation Canada – 514-945-0309

Charmaine Crockett – CanWaCH – 613-863-9489


Note: The coalition of aid agencies represent a broad group of civil society organizations working in the field of advocacy, education, economic development, women and children’s health, sustainable livelihoods and food and water security, nutrition, gender equality and human rights. The group includes:

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights

Action Against Hunger

ACTED Canada 


Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)

AidWatch Canada

Alberta Council for Global Cooperation

Atlantic Council for International Cooperation

Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI)

Bigger Than Our Borders

Bright Hope for Tomorrow

British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC)


Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID)

Canadian Feed the Children

Canadian Foodgrains Bank

Canadian Lutheran World Relief 

Canadian Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases

Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

CARE Canada 

Centre d’étude et de coopération internationale (CECI)

Children Believe

Coady Institute


Collaboration Santé International 

Cooperation Canada

Cooperative Development Foundation of Canada

Crossroads International

Cuso International

Développement international Desjardins (DID)

Development and Peace-Caritas Canada

Dignity Network Canada

Egale Canada

Engineers Without Borders Canada

Equality Fund

Equitas – International Centre for Human Rights Education

Farm Radio International

Fondation Paul Gérin-Lajoie

Food for the Hungry Canada

Global Citizen

Global Disciples Canada

Grandmothers Advocacy Network

Health Partners International Canada

Human Concern International

Humanité & Inclusion

Hungry For Life International 

iDE Canada

Inter Pares

International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO)

International Teams Canada

Islamic Relief Canada

Jane Goodall Institute of Canada

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR)


Kentro Christian Network

Lawyers Without Borders CanaAda

Manitoba Council for International Cooperation

Mary’s Meals Canada

Médecins du Monde Canada

Medical Herstory

Mennonite Central Committee Canada 

Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)

Mission inclusion

Never Again International – Canada

Northern Council for Global Cooperation

ONE Canada

Ontario Council for International Cooperation

Opportunity International Canada

Oxfam Canada


Partners In Health Canada

Penny Appeal Canada

Plan International Canada

Presbyterian World Service & Development

Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund

Public Service Alliance of Canada- Alliance de la Fonction publique du Canada

RÉFIPS, région des Amériques

Right To Play International

Results Canada


Santé Monde 

Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation

Save the Children 


Seva Canada


SOS Children’s Villages Canada


Tearfund Canada

The United Church of Canada 

Unité de santé internationale de l’Université de Montréal

UPA Développement international

Veterinarians without Borders Canada


WaterAid Canada

War Child Canada

The Wellspring Foundation for Education

World Accord

World Hope International (Canada)

World Renew

World Wide Hearing

World University Service of Canada

World Vision Canada

ADVOCACY FOR BUDGET 2023: Where Do We Stand?

ADVOCACY FOR BUDGET 2023: Where Do We Stand?

The 2023 federal budget will be tabled on 28 March, 2023. Advocates and organizations in international cooperation, and members of Cooperation Canada especially, have been working publicly and behind the scenes to send the following message to Minister Freeland and the government:  

We must show the rest of the world that it can continue to count on Canada and keep the promise to increase our international assistance contributions, going beyond last year’s $8.15 billion envelope and committing to reach $10 billion by 2025. 

This message has been consistently conveyed to Members of Parliament, Senators, senior bureaucrats and their teams in Cooperation Canada’s pre-budget submission, in background documents prepared for International Development Week in February 2023, in Kate Higgins’ testimony at the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade Senate hearing, and more recently in an Open Letter to Minister Freeland signed by 77 Canadian aid organizations.  

A positive demonstration of collaboration across organizations, mirroring of the sector cohesion, was the cross-partisan political support displayed at the Parliamentary reception held on February 8th, when the Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of International Development invited fellow members of Parliament from the Conservative Party, New Democratic Party, and Bloc Quebecois to share the stage with her and voice their views on the importance of Canada’s international engagement. 

Beyond political optics, our sector remains determined to pursue advocacy efforts in the lead up to the budget announcement. Several media pieces are being released to ensure that the public is aware of the rationale and impact of Canada’s engagement in global issues, including through Canadian civil society organizations.   

For more on media articles, see: 


Foreign aid is not a handout. It is an investment in the type of world we all want to see, a statement in favor of the right of every person to live in dignity in safe and healthy environments. Foreign aid contributes to promoting that right in Canada and above. By asking for a predictable, three-year budget increase to reach $10 billion by 2025, our sector is calling on the government to do what is both right and smart. 

Cooperation Canada Promotes the Strategic Importance of International Assistance to Members of Parliament

Cooperation Canada Promotes the Strategic Importance of International Assistance to Members of Parliament

The world is facing multiple crises that compound and exacerbate each other. Canada is not immune from these crises. But Canada can be part of the solution.  Because of this challenging global context, Canada must continue to invest in the type of world we want. 

During International Development Week 2023, Cooperation Canada and its members spent a day speaking to government officials and parliamentarians about the strategic importance of international assistance and the difference it is making in the lives of millions of people worldwide. More than 40 people from Cooperation Canada’s member organizations were involved in the meetings with representatives of key departments and Members of Parliament from the Bloc Québécois, Conservative Party, Green Party, New Democratic Party and Liberal Party. Their discussion arguments are summarized in this document: “In the Midst of Multiple Crises, Canadian Global Leadership is Needed”.


Retrospective of IDW2023 at Cooperation Canada

Retrospective of IDW2023 at Cooperation Canada

From February 5 to 11, Canadians celebrated from coast to coast to coast and internationally International Development Week (IDW), an annual moment to get involved in activities and celebrate their contributions to eradicating poverty and to a more peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous world. 

This year, Cooperation Canada planning centred on the Hill Day, the Cooperation Canada Awards Ceremony, a Parliamentary reception, and a joint event on the 2021/22 UNDP Human Development report. 

On February 7, Cooperation Canada and its members spent a day on Parliament Hill, speaking to parliamentarians about the strategic importance of international assistance and the difference it is making in the lives of millions of people worldwide. More than 40 people from Cooperation Canada’s member organizations were involved in the meetings with Members of Parliament from the Bloc Québécois, Conservative Party, Green Party, New Democratic Party and Liberal Party. Our members valued their fruitful discussions and thanked Members of Parliament and senators for showing support for Canadian leadership in facing the multiple crises the world is facing. Their discussion arguments are summarized in this document: “In the Midst of Multiple Crises, Canadian Global Leadership is Needed”.


During IDW, Cooperation Canada also paused to recognize excellence in humanitarian aid and international development at the annual Cooperation Canada Awards ceremony by presenting the Innovation & Impact Awards, in collaboration with World University Service of Canada (WUSC) and the Lewis Perinbam Award Trustees. The ceremony took place on February 9. We have been honoured this year to welcome the Minister of International Development, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, who gave the keynote address at the ceremony. More than 100 people attended the event and congratulated  the 2022 Cooperation Canada Awards winners. 


One of the key moments of the IDW2023 celebration at Cooperation Canada was the Parliamentary reception held on February 8 and co-hosted in partnership with ONE, Results, Canadian Partnership on Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) and the Canadian International Education Policy Working Group (CIEPWG). People from our sector and Parliamentarians from all parties gathered to celebrate IDW2023 and raise awareness for the most in need around the world. 


Cooperation Canada also co-organized with the Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) on February 9 a conversation on advancing in uncertainty in human development. In the context of the recent publication of the 2021-2022 UNDP Human Development Report, policymakers and senior leaders in international development discussed uncertainty and the responsibilities we all have in advancing human development. Pedro Conceicao, Director of the Human Development Report Office delivered the keynote message at this insightful event. 


On February 8, Cooperation Canada CEO Kate Higgins, appeared at the Senate of Canada Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs & International Trade, where as part of IDW 2023, the committee examined global development issues and challenges. You can read Kate’s testimony here.


As we wrap up IDW2023, Cooperation Canada thanks all its members for their commitment and the Members of Parliament and senators for their availability. Working together, we can build a world that is fairer, safer, and more sustainable for all.