COVID-19 has exposed inequalities at home, and around the world. The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing gaps in access to resources, health, and food and has disproportionately impacted already-marginalized groups. These disparities are only becoming more lethal as the world waits to act. It is estimated that COVID-19 will push 71 million people into extreme poverty and 265 million into acute food insecurity; and result in 117 million missed child vaccinations and 31 million additional cases of gender-based violence. The world must act now to protect the lives of the most vulnerable and ensure no one is left behind.
COVID-19 has also exposed the interconnectedness of our world. The virus has demonstrated that the world’s health system is only as strong as the weakest among us, and that our collective well-being is bound up in one another, as COVID-19 anywhere is a threat to us all, everywhere.
Canada has mobilized to stop the spread of COVID-19 at home, but the effects of the virus are felt around the world. They are particularly felt in the global south where the spread of the virus is accelerating, and where existing inequalities are exacerbating the negative impacts of the disease. For instance, due to impacts of COVID-19 on access to sexual and reproductive health and rights services, the deaths of an additional 253,500 children and 12,200 women in the next six months are expected in the least severe scenario projections. The reality of school closures has also impacted families around the globe. One and a half billion children and youth have already missed out on an education, and may never return as a result, due to school closures.
For decades, Canada has championed human rights and gender equality, both at home and abroad. During one of the gravest crises in a century, Canada can play a leading role in building an equitable and just global recovery. A bold and ambitious investment in such a recovery, would show the world fair and generous Canadian leadership, and would also be an investment in a stronger, healthier, more resilient Canada. Through this pandemic, if anything, we have all learned that we are better and stronger when we are together.
While Canada must prioritize the security and wellbeing of Canadians, it must also do its fair share to ensure an effective COVID-19 response globally. There is an urgent need for an immediate investment to mitigate the potentially catastrophic impacts of COVID-19 in the world’s most vulnerable countries. To work towards ending COVID-19 everywhere, and as part of an investment in a just recovery, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) calls on Canada to commit at least 1% of its total COVID response – or $2 billion in new and additional funds – to a global response that tackles the spread of the virus and its secondary impacts in the poorest countries.
This investment should lay the groundwork for additional investments in international development to ensure that Canada supports our neighbours around the world in recovering better.
The world needs Canadian leadership right now, the health and well-being of the world’s most vulnerable and Canadians at home, depend on it.