Cooperation Canada reflects on the roll back of Canadian support to international assistance in the latest federal budget

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

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