Canada - Global health

Global health is a top priority, especially COVID-19

According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Canada’s total official development assistance (ODA) to health in 2020 was US$803 million, making it the sixth-largest Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor country to the sector. Health funding represented 16% of Canada’s total ODA in that year (DAC average: 10%) putting it sixth also in a ranking of DAC donors’ funding to health relative to total ODA. Health funding has remained relatively stable in recent years.

In 2020, 67% (US$535 million) of Canada’s ODA for health was provided bilaterally (DAC average: 56%), including US$222 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 COVID-19 control (21% of bilateral ODA for health), reproductive health care (15%), and basic nutrition (13%). Funding for reproductive health care and basic nutrition increased between 2019 and 2020 (11% and 6%, respectively) in line with Canada’s priorities for its COVID-19 response. 

Other highly funded sectors in 2020 included population policy and administrative management (9%), and basic health care (8%). All of these areas saw a decline between 2019 and 2020, as funds were reprioritized for the COVID-19 response. Basic health care saw the largest cut (27%).

The other 33% (US$268 million) of Canada’s ODA for health in 2020 was channeled as core funding to multilaterals. Top recipients included the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund; 18% of health ODA, or US$144 million), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi; 7%, or US$59 million), and the International Development Association (IDA; 5%, or US$37 million).

Canada has continued to support health multilaterals, especially given their importance to the global COVID-19 response. In May of 2020, Canada joined the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). Canda’s funding for ACT-A has 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 CA$930 million (US$701 million) to the Global Fund for 2020-2022 (Canada’s largest-ever contribution to a health multilateral) and CA$48 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  . Health is grouped with nutrition in this policy. Within health, Canada emphasizes 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 2020, Canada was the fifth 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 CA$732 million (US$552 million) new commitment for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) in FY2022/23 and CA$296 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, Global Affairs Canada (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.