Donor Profile


Last updated: May 31, 2023


ODA Spending

How much ODA does Canada contribute?

Canada was the 6th-largest ODA donor country in absolute terms in 2022.

Canada was the 13th-largest donor in relative terms in 2021, with total ODA representing 0.32% of its GNI. In 2022, there was a slight increase to 0.37% ODA/GNI, but its relative ranking fell to 18th place among donors.

How is Canadian ODA changing?

According to the OECD, the 9% rise in Canada’s ODA between 2020 and 2021 was mainly the result of funding targeting the COVID-19 pandemic and increases in climate finance.

Canada's ODA increased by a further 19% in 2022 to US$7.8 billion, its highest ODA spend to date, largely due to support to Ukraine (some in the form of humanitarian assistance), increased costs for in-donor refugees, as well as higher contributions to international organizations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has repeatedly promised to increase Canada’s international development assistance every year until 2030 to realize the SDGs, including in the Minister of International Development’s most recent mandate letter. Budget 2024 breaks that promise, as Canada continues to decrease its ODA from FY2022-23, when Canada spent a record high of CAD8.1 billion ( US$6.2 billion) on international development assistance.

Given the global context, the war in Ukraine and global health security will likely continue to dominate Canada’s foreign policy and development spending. Canada will also continue to focus development spending on feminist development, in line with its FIAP. Furthermore, Canada announced its inaugural Indo-Pacific Strategy in November 2022, which is part of an effort to diversify diplomatic, trade, and development relations in the region, particularly in the face of heightened tensions between China and the West. As part of the launch of that strategy, the Government of Canada announced roughly CAD960 million ( US$716 million) in development spending in the region. Canada provided a total of CAD1.6 billion ( US$1.2 billion) in development assistance to the Indo-Pacific region in 2021 to 2022, and continues to make regular new development commitments as part of this strategy.

According to Global Affairs Canada’s 2023-2024 Departmental Plan, Canada’s spending on 'Development, Peace and Security Programming' is continuing to decrease from its record high in FY2022-23, to CAD4.7 billion ( US$3.4 billion) in FYs 2023/24 and 2024/25, to CAD4.6 billion ( US$3.3 billion) in FY2025-26. Changes to development spending resulting in this decline include, are not limited to:

  • CAD732 million ( US$530 million) to support access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics in LICs and LMICs ended on March 31, 2023;
  • CAD433 million ( US$314 million) to help address the impact of climate change in LICs and LMICs will be reduced between now and 2025–2026;
  • CAD250 million ( US$181 million) to address the global food and nutrition crisis, with a focus in Sub-Saharan Africa, ended on March 31, 2023; and
  • CAD152 million ( US$110 million) for Canada’s response to advance Ukrainian resilience and early recovery ended on March 31, 2023.

However, the government vows to offset these decreased by increasing spending in other priority areas, such as an additional CAD163 million (US$118 million) to support the FIAP and new funding for Ukraine.

Where is Canadian ODA allocated?

Canada has increasingly favored the use of earmarked funding through multilaterals, standing at 45% of total ODA in 2022.

Bilateral Spending

Health and population spending accounted for the second-largest share of Canada’s bilateral ODA in 2022 at 17.4%. This is a significant decline from 2021, which saw health and populations as the largest sector for bilateral ODA at 31%, but similar to pre-2021 spending levels. The jump in 2021 was due to significant COVID-19 spending to help ensure equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics, and testing. FY2020/21 was also the first year of implementing Canada’s 10-year commitment to global health and rights of women and girls. During this period, CAD1.2 billion ( US$957 million) was disbursed, with the largest amounts going to global health and nutrition as well as to SRHR.

Humanitarian assistance received the third-largest share of bilateral ODA in 2022, in line with Canada’s increasing focus on international peace and security, as well as human dignity in humanitarian crises. Under the FIAP, Canada emphasizes gender-responsive humanitarian action; 99% or US$765 million of Canada’s humanitarian spending in 2021 included gender equality as a principal or significant objective.


Deep-Dive on Canada's ODA for gender equality

Canada’s FIAP emphasizes the poorest and most vulnerable, meaning most of its ODA goes to LICs or LMICs.

The FIAP dictated that by FY2021/22, at least 50% of Canada’s bilateral ODA will be directed to sub-Saharan Africa; however, Canada has yet to reach this goal. An increase in ODA to Europe following the 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine saw sub-Saharan Africa decline from 22% of bilateral ODA in 2021 to 18% in 2022, compared to Europe's 32% in 2022.

Canada’s funding for Asia and sub-Saharan Africa is driven by Canada's growing focus on international peace and security and support for humanitarian crises. This includes support to address the needs of refugees and displaced persons due to conflicts and disasters, such as those being experienced in the top recipient countries.

Canada primarily disburses ODA as grants, which it considers an effective way to deliver increasing amounts of ODA while reducing the administrative burden often associated with loan financing.

Government documents, such as the Global Affairs Canada Departmental Plan 2023-24 and the Minister of International Development’s mandate letter, suggest that the implementation of Canada’s inaugural Indo-Pacific Strategy will be a key priority in the years ahead.

In FY2021/22, the top 10 recipient countries of Canada’s bilateral international assistance were Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sudan, DRC, Ukraine, Nigeria, South Sudan, Mozambique, and Pakistan.

Multilateral Spending and Commitments

Canada’s multilateral spending concentrates on the World Bank, UN agencies, and the Global Fund.

Contributions to multilateral organizations, including to Gavi’s COVAX AMC and the WHO ACT-A, have made up a significant share of Canada’s international response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Politics & Priorities

What is the current state of Canadian politics?

Canada is a constitutional monarchy, meaning the King of the United Kingdom is technically the head of state; however, in practice, the Cabinet and ministers selected by the Prime Minister hold the executive power. Canada has a federal system of parliamentary government.

There are three levels of government in Canada:

  • Federal: Creates laws, and manages programs and services relevant to the whole country, including shaping funding and policy for international development.
  • Provincial and territorial: Makes legal decisions with direct implications for the respective provinces or territories, manages healthcare, education, and policing; and
  • Municipal: Establishes by-laws and services administered in specific cities, towns, or villages. Elections for each level take place separately.

Federal elections are meant to take place on the third Monday of October every four years, but they can be called earlier or later if it is no later than five years after the previous election.

Canada is a representative democracy. The country is divided into 338 ridings (or geographical areas) that each elect one MP based on a ‘first-past-the-post’ system. The party with the most MPs forms the government. Because candidates can win without securing a majority of votes, some have criticized this system, saying it does not properly reflect how people vote. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promised to replace the ‘first-past-the-post’ voting system in the 2015 election, however, after the release of a report by the Special Committee on Electoral Reform in 2016, this promise was never fulfilled.

While Canada is technically a multi-party system, two major parties have historically been dominant in federal elections: the Liberal Party of Canada (center to center-left) and the Conservative Party of Canada (center-right to right). Other parties, including the NDP (Left), the Green Party, and the Bloc Québécois, have seats in Parliament but have never formed a government at the federal level.

In the last election in September 2021, Canadians re-elected a liberal minority government after calling a somewhat controversial mid-pandemic election. The Liberal Party positions itself as a champion of international development. The Liberal Party’s support of international development is perhaps best exemplified by the inaugural Feminist International Assistance Policy, launched in 2017 and developed in consultations with more than 15,000 people in 65 countries. The policy places gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls at the center of Canada’s approach to international assistance.

Part of the Liberal Party’s 2021 platform included a “Principled Approach to Foreign Policy” as part of the party’s international development plans. Platform pledges included increasing Canada’s international development assistance every year until 2030, to realize the UN SDGs; donating at least 200 million vaccines doses to vulnerable populations around the world through COVAX by the end of 2022; continuing to build on Canada’s support for education; and doubling Canada’s funding to grassroots women’s rights organizations around the world. Canada’s 2021 Speech from the Throne, which was a summary of the government's goals for the new parliamentary session, built on these promises by recommitting to increasing Canada’s foreign assistance in the annual budget year after year and investing in equitable, sustainable, and feminist development that promotes gender equality and supports the world’s most vulnerable.

Given their minority mandate, the Liberal Party must cooperate with other political parties in parliament. In March 2022, the Liberal party negotiated an agreement with the NDP that allows them to govern until 2025 with the NDP’s support in the minority Parliament, contingent on the implementation of a negotiated list of policies and priorities. The NDP is generally a strong supporter of international development, although none of the negotiated policies or priorities pertained directly to development spending. Canada’s next federal election will take place on or before October 20, 2025, with opinion polls favoring the Conservative Party of Canada under leader Pierre Poilievre by a wide margin. If the Conservatives were to form a government, Poilievre has vowed to cut international assistance to increase Canada’s military spending to meet NATO targets.

Who is responsible for allocating Canadian ODA?

What are Canada's development priorities?

In June 2017, the government published the FIAP, which seeks to “eradicate poverty and build a more peaceful, more inclusive, and more prosperous world” by promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls.

The policy applies a human rights-based approach to its core action area — gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls — as well as its five other action areas:


Deep-Dive on Canada’s ODA related to gender equality

  1. Human dignity including health education, humanitarian assistance, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and food security;


Deep-Dive on Canada’s ODA for global health

Deep-Dive on Canada’s ODA for education

Deep-Dive on Canada’s ODA for agriculture

  1. Inclusive economic growth;
  2. Environment and climate change;


Deep-Dive on Canada’s ODA related to climate change

  1. Inclusive governance; and
  2. Peace and security.

Canada tracks progress in the FIAP’s action areas using performance indicators released in February 2019. These are used alongside indicators that measure progress on the SDGs, advocacy, and in-house gender equality at GAC.

By issue

Global health is one of Canada’s key priorities. In the FIAP, global health sits under the banner of ‘human dignity’. In FY2022, the FIAP’s action area of ‘global health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and nutrition’ received the most federal disbursements of any action area by a wide margin, accounting for CAD1.8 billion ( US$1.3 billion) in ODA, with CAD695 million (US$503 million) specifically for global health. In recent years, global health security and the COVID-19 response have become a top focus, as evidenced by Budget 2022. Canada also put women and girls at the center of its international response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another one of Canada’s key priorities is SRHR. In FY2021/22 Canada’s funding for SRHR was over CAD561 million (US$406 million), plus an additional CAD465 million ( US$337 million) to support and protect access to basic health and SRHR services as part of Canada’s COVID-19 response. As of 2023, Canada is on track for its goal to increase its global health funding to CAD1.4 billion ( US$1.1 billion) annually by FY2023/24, including CAD700 million ( US$528 million) annually for SRHR, as outlined in its 10-Year Commitment to Global Health and Rights (2020-2030).

Read more about Canada’s ODA for global health

‘Human dignity’ also includes Canada’s humanitarian assistance. Canada supports “gender-responsive humanitarian action”, meaning it strives to offer assistance that appropriately meets the needs of people, particularly women and girls, impacted by crises. In the government’s Departmental Plan 2023-24, the department forecasts that “Development, Peace, and Security Programming” will receive the largest share of funding of all the department’s core responsibilities in FY2024/25 and FY2025/26, at CAD4.7 billion (US$3.4 billion) and CAD4.6 billion (US$3.3 billion) respectively.

Budget 2024 highlights support for Ukraine as a key pillar of “Protecting Canadians and Defending Democracy." Canada’s funding has supported victims of sexual violence and GBV through UNFPA, strengthened grain storage capacity, as well as testing to allow for export certification and humanitarian assistance, among other things. As of the April 2024 2024 Budget release, Canada’s total assistance to Ukraine is more than CAD14.0 billion ( US$10.1 billion) CAD8 billion ( US$5.8 billion) since the war began in January 2022. Budget 2024 announces that Canada intends to provide Ukraine with CAD2.4 billion ( US$1.7 billion) in loans for 2024 to support civilian services, CAD217 million (US$157 million) over five years starting in FY 2025-2025 for the EBRD to support Ukraine’s reconstruction, and CAD76 million ( US$55 million) for additional peace and security assistance for Ukraine between FY2024/25 and FY2026/27.

Visit our Ukraine ODA Tracker for more details

The ‘environment and climate change’ action area has been increasingly prioritized in Canada’s ODA. In FY2021/22, Canada invested CAD1.0 billion ( US$724 million) in official development assistance towards environment and climate action initiatives. According to the OECD, the 9% ODA growth in Canada’s ODA between 2020 and 2021 was largely driven by higher disbursements of climate finance, and in FY2021/22, Canada increased the proportion of its grant contributions for climate finance from 30% to 40% to improve access to climate adaptation projects by affected communities. At the June 2021 G7 Summit, Canada committed to doubling its climate finance contribution to CAD5.3 billion ( US$4.2 billion) over five years (2021-2026), with a focus on climate change adaptation and biodiversity.

Read more about Canada’s ODA related to climate change

Canada champions the application of a gender lens to climate change. This rhetoric has been sustained through the government’s proposals for “building back better” in the wake of COVID-19. Although the FIAP highlights the government’s intention to adopt feminist approaches to climate finance, it lacks any clear goals or measurable outcomes.

By region

Canada’s FIAP emphasizes the poorest and most vulnerable, with a particularly strong focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

Read more about the regional breakdown of Canada’s ODA


What are the details of Canada's ODA budget?

The IAE is the main budgetary tool that funds development assistance in Canada: In FY2020-21, the IAE funded 91% of Canada’s overall international assistance, and on average, around 96% of the country's total international assistance is ODA-eligible.

Canada’s latest budget, Budget 2024 includes no new imminent investments for international development programs. It proposes an estimated CAD146 million (US$106 million) over five years to purchase shares in the Inter-American Development Bank to support clean economic growth and create economic opportunities for women in Latin America and the Caribbean, however, this funding will not begin until FY2027/28.

Amid ongoing humanitarian crises in Gaza, Haiti, Sudan, Yemen, the Sahel, and more, humanitarian assistance remains a key priority for Canada’s IAE. Budget 2024 proposed new funding for humanitarian assistance, including an additional CAD350 million ( US$254 million) over two years beginning in FY2024/25 to international humanitarian assistance broadly, and CAD40 million ( US$29 million) in FY2023/24 for additional humanitarian assistance in Gaza. The budget also showcases Canada’s International Humanitarian Assistance to Africa and the Middle East in FYs 2021/22 and 2022/23, including CAD471 million ( US$342 million) to the Middle East, CAD862 million ( US$25 million) to Sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly CAD10 million ( US$7 million) to North Africa.

Budget 2024 also recommitted to the modernization of international financial institutions (including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Agreement Act, the International Development Assistance Act, and the IMF) to make them more responsive to emerging global threats, leadership on women’s rights and gender equality, and supporting LGBTQI+ rights around the world as key development priorities. However, it does not announce new funding for these priorities.

This decline in Canada’s IAE comes after several years of growth. For example, Budget 2018 added CAD2 billion ( US$1.5 billion) incrementally over five years. Budget 2019 outlined a much more modest increase of only CAD100 million ( US$75 million) in FY2019/20. Although the government did not release a budget in 2020, Canada’s response to the global COVID-19 crisis resulted in the largest-ever single increase to the IAE. In FY2021/22, Canada’s spending on international assistance reached CAD7.6 billion ( US$6.1 billion), followed by a record high CAD8.1 billion ( US$6.2 billion) in FY2022/23.

How does Canada determine its ODA budget?

Canada’s fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 31. Key stages in Canada’s budget process include:

  • Central agencies work with departments to develop budget strategies: In June, the Cabinet reviews the budget. From June to September, central agencies, such as the Privy Council Office, Department of Finance, and TBS, work with government departments to incorporate the results of the Cabinet review and develop budget proposals for the finance minister. By September, all departments send budget letters to the finance minister, which include requests for budgetary changes;
  • Pre-budget consultation process begins, including public outreach and parliamentary consultations with external stakeholders: From June to August, the Department of Finance invites CSOs and other stakeholders to submit suggestions on the budget, including on development. The pre-budget consultation process provides direct opportunities to advocate for issues around the overall ODA envelope;
  • Minister of Finance consults with Parliament: Between October and December, the Minister of Finance releases Budget Consultation Papers and begins consultation with the House of Commons’ Standing Committees. During parliamentary debate on the budget, the FAAE holds hearings with the Minister of International Development. Participants from within government and other experts are invited to testify on policy areas and budget lines. Results of the consultation process and recommendations of the committees are considered by the finance minister. The Department of Finance launches its annual consultation on ODA, as required under the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act. While not an official part of the budget consultation, this is a critical opportunity to advocate for increases in overall ODA or specific initiatives;
  • Fall Fiscal Update and Public Accounts of Canada are released: Around November, the Department of Finance tables its Fall Fiscal Update and Public Accounts. These provide an update of projections since the previous budget. Around this time, the House of Commons’ Finance and Foreign Affairs Committees hold consultations. These may provide direct opportunities to advocate for development issues, especially during the discussion of the Public Accounts, when the status of the execution of the previous year’s budgets is released;
  • Finance Minister develops budget strategy, Cabinet reviews it; Prime Minister and Finance Minister make final decisions: In early December, the Minister of Finance develops a budget strategy with input from the Memoranda to the Cabinet from all departments. It outlines policy priorities and financial asks. The Cabinet reviews these and budget proposals from December to January. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance may make final adjustments until February/March; and
  • Main Estimates are tabled; Finance Minister delivers budget speech; budget is approved: The budget is usually presented to the House of Commons in February/March in a speech by the Minister of Finance. Although, it is not unusual for a budget to be tabled later than this; Canada’s Budget 2021 and Budget 2022 and Budget 2024 were all delivered in the month of April. The Main Estimates, which are the detailed spending plans for each department for the upcoming financial year, are tabled by the president of TBS in April; however, there are areas of surplus not included in the Main Estimates, as the government aims to maintain a ‘surprise’ factor around highly political areas, including development spending.

The Donor Tracker team, along with many DAC donor countries, no longer uses the term "foreign aid". In the modern world, "foreign aid" is monodirectional and insufficient to describe the complex nature of global development work, which, when done right, involves the establishment of profound economic and cultural ties between partners.

We strongly prefer the term Official Development Assistance (ODA) and utilize specific terms such as grant funding, loans, private sector investment, etc., which provide a clearer picture of what is concretely occurring. “Foreign aid” will be referenced for accuracy when referring to specific policies that use the term. Read more in this Donor Tracker Insight.

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Zoe Welch

Zoe Welch

Editorial Working Student