Mr. Chair, I am pleased to be here to present the international assistance provisions in the main estimates. We have also accomplished many things in the past year. That is why I would like to share some thoughts on what we have achieved and our next steps.
My colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, already talked about planned spending on peace and security, climate change, and trade. The $6 billion allocated to international assistance this year includes sizeable contributions to development assistance and humanitarian measures.
Let me give some highlights.
The 2017-18 main estimates includes funding of $2.3 billion for the international development program. Through this program, Global Affairs Canada contributes to reducing poverty and inequality in developing countries, including in fragile contexts, through Canadian, international, and local partners. This year, Global Affairs Canada is implementing a new international assistance policy that protects and promotes the human dignity of the poorest and most vulnerable.
The empowerment of women and girls will be at the heart of Canada's new approach. Canada's international assistance will also support the achievement of the sustainable development goals as part of agenda 2030.
Through our assistance, we will also help developing countries transition to low carbon economies and adapt to climate change. To do so, Canada has committed $2.65 billion over five years. This year, $41.3 million will be used to target developing countries to help them address the impact of climate change through the climate fund for the private sector in Asia.
The 2017-18 main estimates further includes funding of $726.4 million for the international humanitarian assistance program. Through this program, Global Affairs Canada reduces the vulnerability of people in crisis situations, such as during armed conflicts, acute food insecurity, and natural disasters by providing timely and appropriate funding for food, water, shelter, protection, and other humanitarian assistance.
Canada also plays a key role in addressing the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. As part of our three-year commitment of $1.6 billion to the region, we will provide $200.3 million this year in bilateral development programming and humanitarian assistance to help address the crisis in Iraq and Syria. This funding will help those hardest hit by the conflict, by giving them access to food, shelter, health care, water, sanitation, and hygiene, as well as protection and emergency education.
Our investments are linked to the mandate the Prime Minister gave me, namely, to refocus Canada’s international assistance on helping the poorest and most vulnerable people, and supporting fragile states. To that end, our government has already begun a major shift, which specifically involves putting women and girls at the heart of Canada’s new approach.
I would like to point out a few of our recent achievements that illustrate this shift. First of all, we ensured that our efforts in the area of maternal, newborn, and child health are evidence- and outcome-driven. That is why I asked our partners to include a full range of sexual and reproductive health services in their programming. This includes contraception, family planning, and safe and legal abortion services as well as post-abortion care.
In order to bridge the gaps that prevent women and girls from accessing these services, on March 8, the Prime Minister and I announced an investment of $650 million over three years. The programs that will benefit from this funding will help prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence, including child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. They will also help support women's right to choose safe and legal abortions and access to post-abortion care.
Through our partnerships, we are also making Canada a leader in development in the area of innovation, transparency, and efficiency. In that regard, Canada was elected chair of the International Aid Transparency Initiative.
We are also working closely with the Minister of Finance in order to develop innovative funding mechanisms by creating new partnerships, especially with the private sector. In that regard, we have just launched the new development finance institute, which has a $300-million envelope.
In partnership with small and medium-sized companies, this institute will fund projects to stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and foster women's empowerment, the ultimate goal being to reduce poverty.
In conjunction with this type of initiative, Canada is also engaged in supporting inclusive and responsible governance, peaceful pluralism, respect, diversity, and human rights. We will also be involved in the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie in order to provide millions of youth with prospects that will help them integrate into and fully participate in society.
Canada recognizes that the global context for international assistance has changed. This is why we need to adjust our response accordingly. To do so, soon after being named Minister of International Development, I launched a review of Canada's international assistance, the most significant review in the last 25 years.
More than 15,000 people from across Canada and in more than 65 countries contributed to these consultations in person or online. We carefully reviewed all of the input we received and summarized what we heard in an online report last December. I can summarize this report in less than 10 words, in three points: human dignity, building local capacity, and focus on women and girls.
These consultations strengthened our willingness to adopt a feminist approach in development.
Over the coming weeks, I will have the opportunity to share with the House our new feminist international assistance policy. By all accounts, gender equality leads to significant and positive change for entire communities. This new policy reflects who we are as Canadians, an inclusive and open people ready to do our fair share.
We know that the time has come for a policy shift. Together with our partners, we have a collective duty to meet the international challenges that no longer know any borders because those challenges have an impact on the lives of Canadians. By working for a better world, by combatting epidemics or climate change, and by welcoming refugee families fleeing war and conflict, we are working for and with Canadians for a healthier, safer, and more prosperous world for future generations.
When it comes time to help women, men, and children faced with unprecedented humanitarian challenges, I believe that every party in the House shares the same values of compassion and generosity that compel us to play an active role on the international stage. Canada's international assistance is a vital tool that allows us to share these values and elevate and protect human dignity.