Canada is a leader in the nutrition sector; policies are integrated into health and food security strategies

Canada’s nutrition-related activities are mainly embedded in its strategy on food security. ‘Food assistance and nutrition’ is one of three key areas within Canada’s thematic priority on increasing food security (the others are ‘sustainable agricultural development’ and ‘research and development’).  Within its work on nutrition, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) outlines three priority areas: 1) preventing and treating under-nutrition, 2) integrating nutrition into other development efforts, and 3) helping countries prepare sound national plans and programs to improve nutrition.

In 2015, Canada invested US$109 million (25% of bilateral health ODA) in basic nutrition. This is down from US$137 million to the sector in 2014. According to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report, Canada was the second-largest donor country (behind the US) to both nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions in 2014. Canada disbursed US$999 million in 2014.


Nutrition-specific:
Interventions that address immediate causes of undernutrition and have the improvement of nutrition (i.e., support for exclusive breastfeeding, supplementary feeding, etc.) as their primary objective.

Nutrition-sensitive:
Interventions that address underlying causes of malnutrition and that take into account cross-sector actions and impacts (i.e., improving access to diverse foods).


The Canadian government has made several commitments to international nutrition initiatives over the past years. In 2013, Canada pledged US$141 million to the Nutrition for Growth Initiative for nutrition-specific interventions. Canada also disbursed US$248 million in bilateral funding in support of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition from 2012 to 2014. Moreover, Canada is a founding member of the Micronutrient Initiative, a collaborative platform for technical experts, advocates, and other nutrition champions to advance innovative solutions to reduce vitamin and mineral deficiencies through advocacy, and technical and programmatic support. According to the Canadian government, Canada is also the largest donor of vitamin A programs worldwide since 1998.

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

GAC sets nutrition policies; Global Issues and Development branch is a key player

Under the overall guidance of the Prime Minister, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) steers development policy, including for nutrition. Within GAC, priority-setting for nutrition-related policies sits with the Global Issues and Development branch, and the units for ‘Global Health, Nutrition and Education’ and ‘Global Food Security and Environment’. GAC’s four geographic branches managing regional and country programs play a key role in programming nutrition-related activities in Canada’s partner countries.