Trends in Total Canadian ODA Disbursements

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Trends in Canadian ODA Disbursement: Totals and Performance
(Updated April 2017)

1.  Recent annual disbursements in Canadian ODA   Go to this section

2.  Recent cuts to Canadian ODA   Go to this section

3.  Calculating “Real Canadian ODA”   Go to this section

4.  Canadian ODA Performance  Go to this section

5.  A Ten Year Plan to Achieve the UN ODA target of 0.7% of Canada’s GNI   Go to this section

6.  Historical trends in Canadian ODA Performance   Go to this section

7.  Methodological Notes       Go to this section    Download as pdf

 

1.  Recent annual disbursements in Canadian ODA

 

Recent Global Affairs Canada official Statistical Reports for Canadian Official Development Assistance (ODA) detail annual aid disbursements:

2017/18: $5,266 million (AidWatch Canada estimate)

2016/17: $5,852 million (AidWatch estimate, including supplementary estimates)

2015/16: $5,254 million (Actual disbursements, Statistical Report)

2014/15: $5,684 million (Actual disbursements, Statistical Report)

2013/14: $4,836 million (Actual disbursements, Statistical Report)

2012/13: $5,324 million (Actual disbursements, Statistical Report)

2011/12:  $5,511 million (Actual disbursements, Statistical Report)

2010/11: $5,571 million (Actual disbursements, Statistical Report)

After implementing 8% annual increases to international assistance during the period, 2003 to 2010, Canadian ODA reached an historical high in 2010/11 when $5,571 million was disbursed.  (ODA in 2016/17 may exceed this historical high, when official statistics are available for that year – April 2018.)

In 2015/16, the last year that official statistics are available, Canadian ODA had decreased by $430 million to $5,254 million or by 7.6%. This decrease is mainly due to two one-off disbursements in 2014/15, which inflated aid for that year — $442 million to the International Development Association window of the World Bank and a $400 million loan to the Ukraine that year.  Without these one-off disbursements in 2014/15, aid in 2015/16 increased by $411 million or 8.5%.  But aid in 2015/16 is $317 million (or 5.7%) below the high level reached in 2010.

AidWatch Canada estimates ODA for 2017/18 will be approximately $5,266 million, which includes the $128 million increase set out in the Liberal’s 2016 Federal Budget.  The estimate for ODA in 2016/17 is $5,852 million, which includes supplementary estimates approved during the year, mainly for humanitarian assistance in the Middle East and climate change finance.  This increase of $128 million in 2017/18 has been included in AidWatch Canada’s estimate above, but it is unclear whether this amount is added to the new base for 2016/17 or the original 2015/16 base year.  Here it is assumed that the annual increase is not cumulative.  There were no new additions to ODA announced in the 2017 Federal Budget.

For an analysis of the 2017 Federal Budget and Canada’s future commitments to international development assistance, see the analysis by the Canadian Council for International Cooperation.

See Table One (Canadian ODA 2010 to 2017) and Table Two (Distribution of Aid Cuts: Comparing 2010 and 2015)

See also Historical Trends for Canadian ODA, 1980 – 2016 below.

What is Official Development Assistance? — See a definition by the OECD Development Assistance Committee.

Data calculated and posted, April 2017.

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2.  Recent cuts to Canadian ODA

 

Starting in 2011 and 2012, the Conservative Government initiated significant cuts to Canadian aid:

  • Between 2010 and 2013, disbursements in Canadian ODA declined by 13.2%, or by $735 million.
  • Between 2010 and 2015 (the last year for which official statistics are available), ODA disbursements has also decreased, but by a lesser amount than the low of 2013. ODA in 2015 was $5,254, or $252 million (4.6%) less than the peak year of 2010.
  • Between 2010 and 2015 fiscal years, more than $1.7 billion has been removed from the aid program (not counting the special disbursements for IDA and the Ukraine in 2014/15).  The small addition to ODA of $128 million in 2016/17 and in 2017/18 in the Liberal’s first Federal Budget does little to restore the impact of these cuts.

During this period of cuts by the Conservative Government, substantial amounts of allocated ODA was unspent at the end of the year and returned to the Treasury.  These lapsed funds significantly added to the actual cuts in 2012 ($260 million was returned to the Treasury) and in 2013 ($485 million was returned to the Treasury).  CIDA/DFATD in those years did not spend the budget that was allocated to the department for aid.  If the full budget allocated for aid in 2013/14 was actually spent, ODA would have been $5,321 million, an increase of 10% over actual aid disbursements in that year.

Distribution of cuts within components of Canadian ODA

The distribution of these Canadian ODA reductions between 2010 and 2015 has been uneven. (See Table Two above)

  • The core ODA program in CIDA / Global Affairs Canada had only a 1% increase in disbursements, while the overall reduction in ODA was more than 4.6% between these years.  CIDA/GAC often benefited from supplementary estimates during the year, which added budgetary resources for aid, often in response to humanitarian emergencies.
  • The most significant reduction in aid disbursements between 2010 and 2015 has been the 58% decline in the Foreign Affairs eligible disbursements for ODA (net of the equivalent CIDA disbursements now included in Global Affairs Canada).

The overall cut in Canadian ODA between these years was also affected by a reduction in non-budgetary items – support for refugees in Canada for their first year (67% more due to support for Syrian refugees in Canada).  As noted above this item will also be at these levels in 2016 and 2017.  On the other hand, mputed costs associated with students from developing countries studying in Canada declined by 10%. Canada also wrote off $36.4 million in debt in 2010/11, but no debt was cancelled in 2015/16.  Almost all of Canada’s bilateral debt owing from developing countries was written off before 2010.

Data calculated and posted, April 2017.

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3.  Calculating “Real Canadian ODA”                                   

 

Official Development Assistance is a statistical construct that is based on a definition of concessional resource transfers from aid providing countries to aid recipient countries. This definition has been agreed by consensus by members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee

Donors meeting in the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) have established the rules for the calculation of ODA, which they have amended periodically over the past 35 years. According to these rules, providers like Canada are permitted to include in their annual ODA an estimate of expenditures for refugees for their first year in the provider country, an estimate of the costs associated with students studying in the provider country who come from a developing country, and the full value of any debt that is cancelled by the provider country in the year that it is cancelled.

While these three areas are all highly desirable expenditures on the part of provider governments, they do not amount to any transfer of funds to developing countries. While debt cancellation is beneficial, its value to a developing country government is often spread out over several decades.  Therefore, amounts dedicated to these purposes can therefore significantly distort the value of ODA in a given year. 

Many CSOs discount these three items from a provider’s ODA to have a more accurate value for aid that is received by developing countries (or what CSOs call “Real Aid”).  Recently CSOs have lobbied the DAC to reform the notion of ODA by removing these items from its official calculations of ODA. 

While the DAC has not yet had agreement from the providers to make this reform, the DAC itself recognizes these distortions.  It publishes an annual estimate of “Country Programmable Aid” for each provider’s bilateral aid on its web site.

Like many providers, Canada opts to include these three items in its calculation of Canadian ODA.  Their inclusion inflates the size of Canadian ODA, but unlike some European providers, the government does not budget for refugees in Canada out of the International Assistance Envelope, which is the main budgetary line for Canadian ODA.  While these expenditures are counted in Canadian ODA, they do not use resources that otherwise would go to Canadian aid.

How does Real Canadian ODA compare with ODA that Canada reports to the DAC:

2010/11: ODA: $5,571 million         Real ODA: $5,057 million          Difference: $515 million (9.2% of ODA)

2013/14: ODA: $4,836 million         Real ODA: $4,472 million          Difference: $364 million (7.5% of ODA)

2014/15: ODA: $5,684 million         Real ODA: $5,241 million          Difference: $470 million (8.3% of ODA)

2015/16: ODA: $5,254 million         Real ODA: $4,585 million          Difference: $669 million (12.7% of ODA)

2016/17: ODA: $5,852 million         Real ODA: $5,182 million          Difference: $670 million (11.5% of ODA)  (AidWatch Canada estimate)

2017/18: ODA:$5,265 million          Real ODA: $4,696 million                    Difference: $570 million (10.8% of ODA)  (AidWatch Canada estimate)

While reaching a high of $5,241 million in 2014/15, Real Canadian ODA has dropped by more than $360 million between 2010 and 2017 (estimated).   This Real ODA decline between these years has been 7.1%, slightly more than the decline of 6% recorded for unadjusted ODA. This is due to the fact that the costs for refugees has grown in 2015 and 2016 as a result of Canada’s commitments to Syrian refugees, and this item in 2016/17 and 2017/18 is expected to be more than 10% of reported ODA (AidWatch Canada estimate).

See also Historical Trends for Real Canadian ODA, 1980 – 2016, below.

Data calculated and posted, April 2017.

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4.  Canadian ODA Performance

 

In 1971, the United Nations adopted a financial goal for ODA, which is 0.7% of the donor country’s Gross National Income (GNI). Currently only five countries out of the 22 traditional DAC providers have achieved this goal – Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom and Denmark. The Netherlands historically has been a 0.7% country, but in 2013 it slipped below the target due to severe and continuing budget cuts.

Canada’s performance (Canadian fiscal year basis) has never exceeded 0.49% (1988/89). In more recent years, the high has been 0.34% of its GNI in 2009/10 and 2010/11.  Since 2010, Canada’s performance, particularly for Real ODA (see above), has declined from this recent high:

  • 2010/11:  ODA: 0.34%                     Real ODA: 0.31%
  • 2011/12:  ODA: 0.31%                     Real ODA: 0.28%
  • 2012/13:  ODA: 0.29%                     Real ODA: 0.26%
  • 2013/14:  ODA: 0.26%                     Real ODA: 0.24%
  • 2014/15:  ODA: 0.29%                     Real ODA: 0.27%
  • 2015/16:  ODA: 0.26%                     Real ODA: 0.23%
  • 2016/17:  ODA: 0.29%                     Real ODA: 0.26% (AidWatch Canada Estimate)
  • 2017/18: ODA: 0.25%                      Real ODA: 0.22% (AidWatch Canada Estimate)

When measured against other donors at the DAC in 2016 (on calendar year basis for comparison with other providers), with a performance ratio of 0.26% of its GNI, Canada’s rank remains clearly in the bottom half at 16th position (tied with Italy) among 22 traditional DAC providers (a number of new countries such as Iceland have joined the DAC in recent years and are not included).

 

The DAC average performance for these 22 providers in 2016 was 0.40% (a little higher than previous years due to the inclusion of high refugee costs in some European provider ODA for 2016).  Only New Zealand, Australia, Greece, Japan, Portugal, and the United States ranked lower than Canada.

See also Historical Trends for Canadian aid performance, 1980 – 2016, below.

Data calculated and posted, April 2017.

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5.  A Ten Year Plan to Achieve the UN ODA target of 0.7% of Canada’s GNI

 

Given the current low performance of Canada’s ODA, it will take political will to invest consistently over the next ten years to increase the International Assistance Envelope (IAE) to achieve the UN target by 2027, contributing Canada’s fair share to a robust financing framework for Agenda 2030. 

The International Assistance Envelope (IAE) is the main budgetary envelope from which ODA disbursements are drawn.  As noted above ODA also includes a number of non-budgetary items and these are included in these ten-year projections. AidWatch Canada have estimated the annual targets for increasing the IAE to achieve this target. Assumptions are made regarding these non-budgetary items (refugees cost in Canada and imputed student costs in Canada) and the level of non-ODA finance within the International Assistance Envelope, as well as the grow of Canada’s Gross National Income.

On average the IAE will need to grow by 15% annually up to 2021, and 16% thereafter.  With this budgetary investment, it is possible to achieve 0.33% by 2020.  ODA in 2020 would be $7.7 billion, up from $5.3 billion in 2017.  Over these four years, a cumulative $2.5 billion investment of new money in aid will be required.

See AidWatch Canada’s table providing an approximate estimate of the budgetary investment needed to reach 0.7% in the next ten years.

Data calculated and posted, April 2017.

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6.  Historical Trends in Canadian ODA Performance

 

Tables and Charts:

Trends for the period 1980 to 2016 are demonstrated in the table and charts below.  Click on the link to bring up the table or chart.

 

1.  This table, Canada’s Official Development Assistance: 1980 to 2017, provides annual data for Canadian ODA in current dollars, Canadian Real ODA in current dollars (see the definition above), the annual Canadian ODA performance ratio (ODA to Gross National Income), and Canadian Real ODA in constant 2015 Canadian dollars.  These amounts are for the Canadian fiscal year — April to March (and do not correspond to figures reported by the OECD Development Assistance Committee, which are in US dollars and based on a calendar year).

2.  This chart, Canadian Official Development Assistance: 1980 to 2017, provides a representation of Canadian ODA in current Canadian dollars.

Canadian ODA declined from its peak in 2010 to 2013, but since 2014 has recovered, exceeding the 2010 level in 2016/17, mainly due to high levels of support for Syrian refugees in Canada in that year.  In 2017/18 nominal Canadian ODA is expected to be below the level reached in 2010.

3.  This chart, Canadian Official Development Assistance in 2015 dollars: 1980 to 2017, provides a representation of Canadian ODA in constant 2015 Canadian dollars.

This chart measures the value of Canadian ODA in 2015 Canadian dollars (removing the impact of inflation on the annual amount of disbursements).  The trend between 2010 and 2017, despite annual variations (due to humanitarian assistance) is down.  In the ten year period between 2005 and 2017 (the last year in which official statistics are available), the value of Canadian ODA has not increased at all. In 2016 and 2017 there may be some growth over 2005, but main due to Syrian refugee in-Canada expenditures included in ODA.  In 1990, the value of Canadian ODA at $4,900 million (in 2015 dollars) was only $220 million less than AidWatch Canada’s current (April 2017) estimate for 2017.

4.  This chart, Canadian Real Official Development Assistance, 1980 to 2016, provides a representation of Real Canadian ODA in current Canadian dollars.

Real Canadian ODA is the measure of ODA less disbursements included in ODA for refugees for their first year in Canada, imputed costs for students studying in Canada, and debt forgiveness.  It gives a more accurate picture of Canadian ODA resources that are available to developing country governments to program.

Real ODA reached its highest level in 2014 at $5,240 million.  However, in the twelve year period since 2005, Real ODA has not increased — $4,860 million in 2005 and an estimated $4,710 million in 2017.  See the discussion of Real ODA above.

5.  This chart, Canadian Real Official Development Assistance in 2010 dollars: 1980 to 2017.

In real terms, the value of Real ODA in 2010 at $5,497 was the peak year.  In 2015/16 (the last year that official statistics are available) the value of Real Canadian ODA ($4,585 million) fell by more than $900 million since 2010!  While significantly higher in 2016/17 at an estimated $5,110 million, estimates for 2017 put the value of Real Canadian ODA at $4,568 million, similar to 2015/16.  The actual value for 2017 may be affected by supplementary estimates adding to the International Assistance Envelope during the 2017/18 fiscal year.

Interestingly, the value of Real ODA in 1990 at $4,900 million was more than its value in 2015/16 ($4,585 million).  Canada did not begin to include Canadian expenditures on refugees for their first year in Canada in its ODA until 1993.

6.  This chart, Canadian ODA Performance: 1980 to 2016 (fiscal year basis) provides a representation of Canadian ODA performance ratio (ODA to Gross National Income.

Canadian ODA performance, as measured by the percentage of Canada’s Gross National Income, has fallen dramatically since the early years of the 1980s and early 1990s.  In 1988, this ratio was 0.49%, compared to 0.34% in 2010, 0.26% in 2015 (the last year that official statistics for ODA are available, and an estimated 0.25% in 2017.  See the discussion of Canadian ODA performance above.

7.  This chart, Real ODA Performance: 1980 to 2016 (fiscal year basis) provides a representation of performance for Real Canadian ODA (see the definition above).

The decline in Canadian ODA performance is even more dramatic for Real ODA as a percentage of Canadian GNI.  From 0.49% in 1988 (when Canada did not include refugee and imputed student costs in its ODA), it reached a low of 0.19% in 2003, rising to 0.31% in 2010 (the peak year since 2000 for Canadian Real ODA disbursements), 0.23% in 2015 (the last year for which official ODA statistics are available), and an estimated low of 0.22% in 2017. 

Canada’s generosity as a nation has not kept pace with the growth of its economy and the potential to finance ODA at considerably higher levels, maintaining levels achieved in the 1980s and early 1990s.  AidWatch Canada has provided a ten-year timetable to rebuild Canadian ODA, reaching 0.7% by 2027/28 (see above).

Data calculated and posted, April 2017.

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7. Methodological Notes

 

Please refer to the Methodological Notes for the sources and basis for calculating Canadian ODA on this page.

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