Canada - Nutrition

Canada is a leader in the nutrition sector

Canada’s nutrition-related activities are embedded in the Feminist International Assistance Policy’s (FIAP) second action area, ‘Human Dignity’. Given the policy’s gender-equality lens, ensuring adequate nutrition of adolescent girls and pregnant women is a core focus, as well as battling gender-based discrimination that forces women and girls to “eat less and eat last”.

According to the policy, Canada will leverage its nutrition investments to increase the provision of micronutrient supplements, and advocate for gender-responsive nutrition policies within international working groups such as Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN). Through its work with SUN, Canada is aiming to:

  • Raise awareness about the connections between nutrition and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR);
  • Advocate for increased investments in nutrition from the international community; and
  • Partner to provide vulnerable populations with effective nutrition interventions.

In 2018, Canada disbursed US$105 million in nutrition-specific funding (see box for details), according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Funding is much higher when looking at nutrition-sensitive interventions. According to the 2020 Global Nutrition Report , Canada was the second-largest donor country (behind the US) in nutrition-sensitive interventions in 2017, disbursing US$1.2 billion in funds to this sector.


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).


Canada is actively involved in international nutrition initiatives, and this involvement has intensified as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. For example, in mid-April, 2020, Canada's Minister of International Development convened a virtual meeting of the UN's Group of Friends on Food and Nutrition Security to discuss strategies for mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 on food access in low-income countries. Canada also pledged CAD14 million (US$11 million) to the World Food Programme and CAD2 million (US$1 million) for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as part of the country’s emergency funding for the COVID-19 response.

In 2018, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) launched a partnership with Nutrition International and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) to engage girls in Bangladesh, Madagascar, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania with healthy eating programs. In the same year, Canada also invested an additional CAD2 million (US$1 million) in the Right Start initiative in Indonesia, having contributed CAD75 million (US$58 million) to the initiative at its launch.

Canada hosts and is a large funder of Nutrition International (formerly the ‘Micronutrient Initiative’), a collaborative not-for-profit 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.

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

Under the overall guidance of the Prime Minister, 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.