NATIONAL PULSE – Two-thirds see moral obligation to help abroad

Comprehensive study looks at perspectives on
international aid at governmental and individual levels


March 6, 2018 –  The 2018 federal budget includes a defibrillator for Canada’s foreign aid spending: $2 billion in new contributions to international development over the next five years that has drawn plaudits from the likes of Bono, among others.

The Canadian public is likely to have mixed feelings about this increase, however. A new Angus Reid Institute study finds that, while Canadians say they would like to do more for global development, just over one-quarter of them (28%) believe their country should spend more than it currently does.

This lack of appetite for increased payments persists even when respondents are told Canada’s foreign aid spending has lagged behind that of other OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries and fallen short of the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income. Even with the cash-infusion in the 2018 budget, Canada’s spending remains below the UN goal.

The budget increase, which has been praised by many non-governmental organizations working in overseas aid, squares with another seemingly competing Canadian opinion, however. Two-thirds say that Canada has a moral obligation to help those in developing countries.

This study explores both views of Canada and its place in the foreign aid community, as well as individual mindsets on development work, engagement and contribution among Canadians, themselves.

More Key Findings:

  • Canadians hold four broad dispositions when they consider the value and successes of aid work done by their country’s development NGO’s. They are the True Believers, the Optimists, the Doubtful and the Hopeless. Each group represents at least one-fifth of the population and views these issues in a distinct way
  • Close to one-in-five Canadians (17%) believe that Canada spends more than the UN target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income on overseas development assistance. Three-in-ten (31%) say the country is at or close to that figure, while just one-in-four (26%) correctly identify Canada’s foreign aid spending as below the target
  • Most Canadians (64%) say that countries like Canada have a moral responsibility to assist less wealthy nations in development, but one-in-five (21%) say they personally donate money to overseas aid or charity projects.
  • Asked how they donate to their cause or causes, more than half (56%) say it is usually a spontaneous call to action or a crisis, rather than planned giving (44%). Those who plan their donations in advance are much more likely to give larger sums of money

Link to the poll here:

About Mel Rothenburger (6626 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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