Canada - Global health

Global health is a top priority, with a strong focus on MNCH and SRHR

According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Canada’s total official development assistance (ODA) to health in 2019 was US$842 million, making it the sixth-largest Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor country to the sector. Health funding represented 18% of Canada’s total ODA in that year (DAC average: 8%) putting it second in a ranking of DAC donors’ funding to health relative to total ODA. Health funding has remained relatively stable in recent years.

In 2019, 59% (US$495 million) of Canada’s ODA for health was provided bilaterally (DAC average: 50%) including US$177 million as earmarked funding through multilaterals. (Earmarked funding is funding channeled through multilateral organizations for a specific purpose and is reported to the OECD as bilateral funding.) The largest share of bilateral health investments went to reproductive health (14% of bilateral ODA for health), basic nutrition (13%), population policy and administrative management (12%), and basic health care (11%). These highlight Canada’s thematic priorities within the maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) sector, including nutrition, health systems strengthening, and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Funding to all these areas increased between 2018 and 2019 except for basic nutrition funding, which declined 36%. The largest increase was in ODA toward population policy and administrative management, which rose by 38%, driven by Canada’s support for SRHR.

The other 41% (US$348 million) of Canada’s ODA for health in 2019 was channeled as core funding to multilaterals. Top recipients included the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund; 23% of health ODA or US$197 million), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi; 10% or US$81 million), and the International Development Association (IDA; 4% or US$35 million).

Canada has continued to support health multilaterals, especially given their importance to the global COVID-19 response. In May of 2020, Canada announced CAD600 million (US$452 million) for Gavi for 2021-2025. That same month, Canada joined the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) to which it has since pledged more than CAD1.3 billion (US$980 million). These funds have been channeled through the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Global Fund, Gavi, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), Unitaid, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Also in 2020, Canada pledged CAD930 million (US$701 million) to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) for 2020-2022 (Canada’s largest-ever contribution to a health multilateral) and CAD48 million (US$36 million) annually over four years for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s (GPEI’s) ‘end-game strategy’.

Health is a cornerstone of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) as part of its ‘human dignity’ action area. In this policy, health is grouped with nutrition. Within health, Canada emphasized the health of women and girls, particularly SRHR and MNCH. Canada has been a vocal supporter of these issues through its participation in ‘Women Deliver’, ‘She Decides’, ‘Family Planning 2020’, the Ouagadougou Partnership, and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH). In 2020, the Canadian government joined leaders from 58 other countries in calling out the importance of safeguarding SRHR during the COVID-19 crisis. In 2019, Canada was the fourth largest provider of overall contributions to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The focus of this funding has been SRHR in conflict zones, health system strengthening, and midwifery projects.

Global health is a primary focus of Canada’s latest federal budget (Budget 2022). In particular, it announces a CAD732 million (US$552 million) new commitment for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) in FY2022/23 and CAD296 million (US$223 million) in new funding for global health security over four years starting in FY2023/24.

GAC’s Minister of International Development leads on policy development with support from the Deputy Minister of International Development

Under the leadership of the Prime Minister, GAC steers development policy for global health. GAC is headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Minister of International Development sets development policy within GAC.

The Deputy Minister of International Development manages GAC’s development policy units and budget allocation. Other relevant branches within GAC are the Global Issues and Development Branch, under Assistant Deputy Minister, which manages multilateral policies and contributions; the Strategic Policy Branch; and the four geographic branches (Americas; Asia Pacific; Europe, the Middle East and Maghreb; and ‘sub-Saharan Africa’, meaning the countries of Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Africa, according to the African Union’s designation) that manage country programs. Within the Global Issues and Development branch, relevant units include Food Security and Environment, Health and Nutrition, International Humanitarian Assistance, and International Organizations.