Cooperation Canada Statement on Auditor General of Canada Report on International Assistance in Support of Gender Equality

Cooperation Canada Statement on Auditor General of Canada Report on International Assistance in Support of Gender Equality

Today the Auditor General of Canada released the Report on International Assistance in Support of Gender Equality.The report focused on bilateral development assistance programming from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2022, which represents an average of $3.5 billion per year.

The report concludes that Global Affairs Canada was not able to demonstrate how Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy contributed to improving gender equality in low- and middle-income countries.  This finding is linked to weaknesses in Global Affairs Canada’s information management systems, an inadequate focus on outcomes against policy goals and the need to look beyond gender and age in the department’s project-level gender equality assessments to take a more inclusive approach that considers how other aspects of identity should inform programming.

The Auditor General also found that the department did not meet two out of three spending commitments. While Global Affairs Canada consistently exceeded its 80% gender-integrated spending commitment for projects that integrate gender equality, it did not quite meet the commitment for 15% of projects to target gender equality as the main project objective, and for 50% of bilateral funding to go to projects in sub-Saharan Africa.

Cooperation Canada commends the Government of Canada’s commitment to gender equality and its global leadership on feminist programming, guided by Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.  Canada’s global leadership on funding women’s rights organizations and movements, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and paid and unpaid care work is having transformational impacts on the lives of women, girls and gender diverse people around the world. In addition, the integration of gender equality throughout Canada’s international assistance programming makes Canada the top bilateral donor on gender equality according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The launch and the implementation of the Feminist International Assistance policy has been a huge undertaking.  It was – and is – the right vision at a time when women’s rights and progress on gender equality are under threat around the world. We are proud of Canada’s global leadership as gender equality champions,” said Kate Higgins, Chief Executive Officer of Cooperation Canada.

Cooperation Canada appreciates Global Affairs Canada’s agreement with the report’s recommendations and promise to take swift corrective measures. The weaknesses identified in the Auditor General’s report are issues that Cooperation Canada members have been working closely with Global Affairs Canada to address in recent years. These efforts have accelerated in past months as Cooperation Canada members work closely with Global Affairs Canada to inform the transformation of internal information management and granting and monitoring systems. We are encouraged by the priority Global Affairs Canada is giving to this work, and trust that initiatives like the Grants and Contributions Transformation initiative will improve monitoring and reporting systems and increase overall accountability to both Canadian taxpayers and country partners.

Cooperation Canada is also encouraged by the government’s commitment to supporting an intersectional approach to international assistance and building the collective capacity of those engaged in Canadian international assistance to do this critical work, including through the government’s support of the Anti-Racist Cooperation (ARC) Hub and DIGNA, hosted by Cooperation Canada.

The Auditor General’s recommendation to more effectively capture the impact of Canadian international assistance is a critical reminder about the importance of finding effective ways to document and demonstrate the difference that Canadian international assistance is making around the world, focusing on aggregate impact and long-term outcomes.

We know that Canadian international assistance is helping save and change lives around the world every day,” Kate Higgins said. “But there is more that the Canadian government and its partners can do to track, document and communicate impact to Canadians. We hope that the findings of the Auditor General’s report push us to continue to invest in demonstrating the impact of our collective efforts towards gender equality and a safer, fairer and more sustainable world,” she said.

Statement: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 30 Sep 2022

Statement: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 30 Sep 2022

As part of shared efforts to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, Cooperation Canada acknowledges the historic and ongoing violence committed against Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island in the name of ‘development’ and the abuse and trauma inflicted by colonization, including through residential schools, on children, their families, and communities. As a national association of international development and humanitarian organizations in Canada, we recognize the importance of engagement and action on truth and reconciliation in Canada, and the ongoing and pressing need to address racism and decolonize our narratives and practices in international cooperation.

On September 30, Cooperation Canada will observe the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by closing our offices and encouraging our team to reflect on the painful legacy and impacts of residential schools, and our role in truth and reconciliation. As early and recent settlers on this land, at Cooperation Canada we are unpacking our individual responsibilities and collective duty to speak up and not look away from colonial oppression at home or abroad, and to stand up and not back down in our efforts to promote equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, and justice. Our staff are encouraged to observe Orange Shirt Day on September 30 in consideration for the survivors and intergenerational survivors of the residential school system and commemoration of those who did not return home.

Cooperation Canada recognizes that we can and must do better to address colonial legacies in international cooperation, learning from Indigenous peoples in Canada and across the world.

We encourage all members of the international cooperation community to take part in related events that are planned across the country and consult some of the publicly available resources.


Cooperation Canada Statement – Response to BIA 1 amendments (Bill C-19)

Cooperation Canada Statement – Response to BIA 1 amendments (Bill C-19)

With the Budget Implementation Act (Bill C-19) receiving royal assent on June 23, 2022, Cooperation Canada and its members are pleased to see that the clauses regarding the charitable sector address some of the concerns raised by Canadian charities and equity-seeking organizations working with non-charities at home and abroad.  

For years, the charitable sector had been calling to remove from the Income Tax Act the “own activities” requirement, a legal fiction that entrenched colonial and paternalistic relationships between charities and non-registered organizations they seek to partner with. Bill S-216, the Effective and Accountable Charities Act, passed the Senate under the leadership of Senator Ratna Omidvar as a response to concerns expressed by practitioners in the charitable and international development sectors, before being tabled in the House of Commons. Cooperation Canada and others in the Canadian charitable sector welcomed the Canadian government’s support for Bill S-216, a commitment of the April 2022 federal budget, but were concerned with the language included in Bill C-19 later tabled.  Specifically, we were concerned that the proposed changes did not reflect the “spirit of Bill S-216,”, and could further prevent Canadian charities from achieving more equitable partnerships with non-charities in Canada and abroad. In the weeks that followed, a broad cross-section of the Canadian charitable sector engaged with government officials and members of Parliament to request amendments to Bill C-19. The current language in the Budget Implementation Act Bill is a testament to compelling and coordinated advocacy by the Canadian charitable sector, and the government’s willingness to listen and attend to the sector’s concerns. 

This positive change in legislation is also an encouraging sign for the steps ahead. Cooperation Canada and its members are eager to collaborate with the government and the Canada Revenue Agency in developing the revised guidance documents that would allow Canadian charities to best achieve their charitable purpose at home and abroad. The advocacy work is not over, but good progress has been made in reforming Canada’s outdated charity legislation.  This should support Canadian charities, including Canadian international development and humanitarian organizations, advance more equitable partnerships in their work around the world. 

Statement on Canada’s response to the global hunger crisis

Statement on Canada’s response to the global hunger crisis

Ottawa, Ontario – As global food insecurity increases throughout the world, Cooperation Canada is pleased to see the Government of Canada respond with $250 million in new funding to address the global hunger crisis.  This much needed commitment comes at a time when the crisis in Ukraine aggravates pressures on vulnerable households, climate-stressed farmlands, and fragile supply chains in many parts of the world.  

With this latest announcement, and previous funding announcements for affected regions including the Sahel, South Sudan, Syria, and for the agri-food sector in Africa, Cooperation Canada welcomes new, additional funds to address the global food crisis. “The scale of the global hunger crisis is significant and should not be underestimated. Millions of lives are at stake,” said Kate Higgins, Cooperation Canada’s CEO. “Additional funding is critical to ensure that Canada can respond quickly without diverting funds from other existing priorities.”    

Cooperation Canada commends the inclusion of people in Canada in this response with the announcement of a match donation campaign through the Humanitarian Coalition. This effort could help raise up to an additional $5 million to address the hunger crisis.  

Cooperation Canada also welcomes the decision to channel funds through Canadian civil society organizations. Canadian civil society organizations are well-placed to respond to this crisis, working across diverse sectors and geographies, and with and through local partners best placed to respond. As the complexity of the food crisis pushes countries and organizations to apply multi-sectoral solutions to systemic problems, Canadian civil society organizations and their partners are ready to rise to the challenge. “We have been working alongside Cooperation Canada members and others to advocate for increased Canadian leadership to address this hunger crisis,” noted Higgins. “We are pleased to see this response. Canadian organizations and their partners are on the front-line, responding to global humanitarian crises with flexibility, innovation and heart. This announcement recognizes their expertise, role and contribution.”