As someone who advocates for ODA (official development assistance), I often hear protests about helping our own before helping others.
What most people don’t seem to realize is that foreign aid pays huge net returns for Canada.
Our foreign assistance increases peace and political stability in poor nations. Desperate people are ripe for exploitation by extremists and it’s a lot cheaper preventing extremism than fighting it.
Supporting health care in other countries slows the spread of increasingly drug resistant diseases that know no borders. Recall that the worst epidemics in our history started in other nations, and there are strains of TB emerging that have no effective treatment.
Lastly, the battle against climate change is supported by Canada’s foreign aid, as economic development can reverse desertification and deforestation, and encourage sustainability.
Underdevelopment, inequality, poverty, political instability, human rights violations and environmental degradation are all interconnected, and they impact Canada in many subtle and not so subtle ways. Security, economic growth and trade, climate change and public health are impacted. This is well known and long researched, yet our aid commitment is far less than most developed nations.
It’s a long neglected government file that gets little thanks or public praise, and that needs to change. When we take care of others in this interconnected world we take care of ourselves.