MONTREAL, April 3, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - A few weeks ago, Development and Peace received a response from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to its request for funding. The Organization had submitted a program proposal for $49,2 million over 5 years, covering 20 countries and 136 partner organizations. This proposal was submitted more than 18 months earlier. It took all this time for CIDA to provide a response and announce to us that we would receive $14.5 million over 5 years, to work in only 7 countries with about 40 partners.
This is a disastrous response for Development and Peace and its partners. In all likelihood, hundreds of jobs will be lost among our partners of the Global South. It is important to note that Development and Peace is one of the few organizations that finances the operational structures and the salaries of the groups that are supported. Already, several partners have had to absorb substantial cuts, because, since September 1st, 2011, Development and Peace has been functioning with only the funds raised directly from the Canadian public. In spite of the generosity of our donors, this is clearly insufficient to maintain the same level of funding. In addition to job losses in the Global South, there will be at least a dozen jobs lost across Canada as a result of these cuts. The years of work, effort, democratization and development carried out by Development and Peace partners and members are now compromised by this decision from CIDA.
How to we view these cuts? How do we interpret them? The Union of Employees of Development and Peace makes a clear link between the education work of Development and Peace in Canada and the decision of the Canadian government. The Harper government was particularly annoyed by the campaign led by Development and Peace from 2006 to 2011 concerning the corporate social responsibility of Canadian mining companies operating in the countries of the Global South, a campaign that resulted in the collection of over 500 000 signatures from Canadians calling for our country to equip itself with mechanisms to regulate the behavior of our companies overseas.
The Canadian government has not lived up to its obligations. On several occasions, Canada has committed to increase the amount of its Official Development Assistance (ODA) and to raise it to 0,7% of GNP. Not only has it made no effort to do this, but it cut ODA in the last budget, reducing the level to 0,29%. It is shameful that a rich country like Canada disassociates itself from the poor of this planet.
On a larger scale, we also note a dangerous drift in the vision of ODA that is held by the Canadian government. Many other organizations, like us, which supported the organization of civil society in the Global South, have also been cut. The new system of "Calls for Proposals" or bidding for contracts that CIDA has implemented has resulted in a situation whereby the priorities for development are now dictated by the Government and not by the project-implementing Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) or their partners. Our Government has also chosen to increasingly respond to the needs of the Global South through the provision of services to the people, thus removing the responsibility of the countries themselves, rather than by working on the causes of problems and supporting actions of the civil society for improved governance. More and more projects financed by CIDA are also ethically dubious, for example, the projects in association with Canadian mining companies, where the environmental and social devastation are cleaned up by Canadian NGOs, financed by funds from the Canadian public. Do we really want our country's development aid to serve to restore the image of our mining companies and give them a clear conscience?
Promoting social justice is at the heart of the mission of Development and Peace. We cannot remain silent. The Union has chosen to support two actions recently launched by Development and Peace members. They are organizing a fast for Good Friday to protest the cuts and to put pressure on the Government. Members are also promoting a "One Dollar for One World" campaign where they invite other members and supporters to meet their MPs and give her or him a dollar to forward to CIDA with the request that Development and Peace receive a level of funding that will enable it to continue its work with its partners of the Global South. In fact, we invite all of the population to join in these actions.
The Executive of the Union of employees of Development and Peace has convened a special general assembly of its members on April 14 in order to discuss and decide on actions to be taken in the face of this situation.
For further information:
Marcelle Sinclair, présidente du syndicat des employées et employés de Développement et Paix, bureau de Montréal. 514 257-8711 poste 311
Siobhan Rowan, officière du syndicat bureau de Toronto 416 922-1592 poste 229
Genevieve Gallant, officière du syndicat, bureau d'Ottawa 613 738-9644