Trudeau’s Funding Announcement for Women & Girls’ Health Raises Concerns
On June 04, 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Government of Canada will raise its funding to reach $1.4 billion annually, beginning in 2023, to support women and girls’ health around the world with $700 million of the annual investment being dedicated to sexual and reproductive health rights. On the surface, this announcement appears to be an impressive investment; however, it raises legitimate concerns about just how serious the Prime Minister and the current Liberal government are about supporting women and girls’ health and the timing of their announcement.
The most significant concern which emerges from this recent announcement is that if Prime Minister Trudeau truly cared about the issue of women and girls’ health, he wouldn’t have waited four years to make this funding announcement. But out of desperation and with an election only months away, now he’s suddenly found the money, but four years down the road. This is cynical and political. It should also be noted a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) states that Canada’s foreign aid spending fell to 0.26 per cent of GNI, lower than our previous Conservative government.
We, the Official Opposition, believe in initiatives that improve the health and lives of millions of women and children around the world. When we were in government, we took considerable steps to support women and girls’ health. In June 2010, Canada led G8 and non-G8 leaders to commit $7.3 billion, mobilizing global action to reduce maternal and infant mortality and improve the health of mothers and children in the world’s poorest countries, through the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. As part of this initiative, Canada committed to providing $1.1 billion in new funding between 2010 and 2015 to help women and children in the world’s poorest countries. Canada also announced it would maintain the ongoing spending of $1.75 billion in maternal, newborn, and child health programming during the same period, resulting in a total commitment of $2.85 billion.
In May 2014, at the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach summit, Prime Minister Harper announced an additional commitment of $3.5 billion for the period of 2015–2020 for maternal, newborn, and child health. During the summit, the Prime Minister set out a strategy to effectively reduce maternal and child deaths with an emphasis on strengthening health systems, improving nutrition, and reducing the burden of leading diseases, as well as a commitment to support Canadian partners’ important work in advancing this global priority.
Our previous Conservative government supported family planning and reproductive health care initiatives, which aid in global efforts to stop the practice of child marriage, early marriage, and forced marriage. We placed maternal, newborn, and child health at the forefront of Canada’s developmental efforts. The steps taken were to provide immediate support to women and girls’ health around the world and weren’t politically timed, unlike the steps recently taken by the current Liberal government under the leadership of Prime Minister Trudeau.