Trudeau pledges $ 400 million in additional humanitarian aid to fight COVID-19

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OTTAWA – Aid agencies welcomed Canada’s pledge on Tuesday to spend an additional $ 400 million in development and humanitarian spending to fight COVID-19. The new money will go to “trusted partners on the ground fighting COVID-19,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a video conference at the United Nations that he co-hosted with Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

“Whether it’s ensuring equitable access to vaccines or giving struggling countries more time to make bilateral debt payments, including the Caribbean and small island states, we are working on concrete options that will help build a more resilient world, ”Trudeau said.

Non-governmental organizations have lauded the additional government spending after decades of advocating with successive Liberal and Conservative governments to give a significant boost to the country’s development aid budget.

Nicolas Moyer, chief executive of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, said the new funds announced Tuesday by Trudeau were important given the government’s commitment last Friday to contribute $ 220 million to the mechanism. global access to COVID-19 or COVAX vaccine, which will help purchase vaccine doses for low- and middle-income countries.

“These investments come at a critical time. With immense and growing needs around the world, Canada has stepped up at a time when the world needs Canadian leadership more than ever, ”said Moyer.

“The COVID pandemic is the challenge of a generation. When the world needs us, it is essential that Canada stand up and do its part.

Lindsay Glassco, president of Plan International Canada, said the pandemic had reversed decades of progress in reducing poverty and improving gender equality at home and abroad.

“The pandemic has shown us how truly connected the world is and that solutions need to extend beyond borders,” said Glassco.

“The Canadian government has responded once again with funding and support to end this setback, and we are grateful for that. ”

It was the second time since the spring that Trudeau, Guterres and Holness had held a meeting of the UN high-level panel on “Financing for Development in the Age of COVID-19 and Beyond.” They held their first joint meeting in late May, less than three weeks before Canada won a temporary seat on the Security Council.

Canada ran on a platform to try to help rebuild the post-pandemic world in a contest that pitted it against Norway and Ireland for two non-permanent seats on the council, beginning in next year.

Trudeau said after the defeat of the Security Council that Canada would remain active on the world stage in an attempt to rebuild a struggling economy.

“Canada believes that a strong and coordinated response across the world and in all sectors is essential. This pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reset, ”Trudeau said Tuesday.

“This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts to reinvent economic systems that truly respond to global challenges such as extreme poverty, inequality and climate change. ”

Trudeau said Canada would invest more in the coming years and continue to advocate for debt relief for developing countries facing economic hardship as a result of the pandemic.

Canada will strive to make the voices of these countries heard in larger forums like the G7, G20 and the World Bank, he added.

Guterres said he welcomed Trudeau’s request for debt relief, adding that he would advocate it within the G20, as it could provide up to $ 12 billion in aid to participating countries.

“The problem is to mobilize the resources,” said Guterres.

“It has to do with strengthening the resources of the IMF and the World Bank and other international financial institutions,” he added.

“And it has to do with the vaccine and the need to invest heavily in creating a vaccine that is a global public good. ”

Trudeau said the pandemic has further exacerbated the long-standing challenges of poverty, inequality and climate change.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 29, 2020.

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