By Cecilia Nasmith
Horizons of Friendship is calling on Canadian party leaders and all candidates in the current Federal election to commit to upholding Canada's legacy and leadership in international assistance.
The international development agency founded in 1973 by three Cobourg residents is committed to eliminating poverty and injustice in Central America and Mexico through partnerships with trusted local agencies. Its current project, undertaken with Federal funding, is saving the lives of women and children in a region in Guatemala where infant-, childbirth- and pregnancy-mortality rates were significant. Horizons has also engaged in similar partnerships to make a difference in such areas as health, migration, climate action, and violence against women.
“Horizons strongly condemns any regression on international assistance, which may endanger progress towards sustainable development goals and lead to further fragility and insecurity around the world,” the agency's press release stated.
The bulletin expresses special concern with the Oct. 1 announcement by Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer of a prospective 25% cut to international aid and a proposal to deny aid to middle and upper-middle developing countries around the globe.
From Horizons' perspective, this would effectively cut all funding to the countries where they work and curtail the ability of other Canadian non-governmental organizations to support international development, particularly in Latin America.
Horizons executive director Patricia Rebolledo said in the press release that this will undermine progress and work on climate action, gender equality and poverty eradication.
“We have made tremendous progress in advancing women’s and children’s health and rights, food security, and climate action across Central America and Mexico. This proposal threatens our ability to continue to work on these issues in the region with support from the Government of Canada,” Rebolledo said.
As of 2018, Canada only spent 0.28% of its gross national income on international assistance – far short of the globally agreed target of 0.7%.
The press release calculates that this represents just 28 cents for every $100 Canadians earn.
“Horizons hopes that the incoming government will focus on increasing international assistance for developing countries, instead of cutting international assistance,” it stated.
“Horizons looks forward to working with any government to reduce poverty and injustice in Central America and Mexico.”