Groups petition Ottawa to spare foreign aid in upcoming budget

Foreign aid advocates fear the Conservative government is planning to make even deeper cuts to foreign aid in next week’s budget.

OTTAWA — Foreign aid advocates fear the Conservative government is planning to make even deeper cuts to foreign aid in next week’s budget.

A coalition of non-governmental organizations, including the Canadian chapter of Engineers Without Frontiers and the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, has launched an online petition urging the government to spare foreign aid.

“As you consider your choices for the 2014 budget, please do not cut vital foreign aid funding that supports childhood vaccinations, promotes healthy newborns and mothers and helps lift millions out of poverty,” reads the petition, which currently has 15,000 signatories and is aiming for 30,000.

In 2012, the Conservatives announced they were cutting almost $380 million, or 7.5 per cent, from Canada’s $5.3-billion annual aid budget. That included $290 million in unspent funds that were returned to the treasury.

The government didn’t make any further cuts in last year’s budget, but it did merge the work of the Canadian International Development Agency with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

That move raised concerns from NGOs that Canada’s long-held commitment to alleviating global poverty would take a back seat to pursuing trade and investment opportunities for corporate Canada.

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