Good morning, colleagues.
Welcome. This is meeting number 4 of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, on Tuesday, November 27, 2007.
Our orders of the day begin with the supplementary estimates. You will take note in your agenda of the votes and different areas that we're going to look at under Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Our witnesses today are from the Canadian International Development Agency. We welcome the president, Robert Greenhill. As well, we have Gregory Graham with us today, who is the acting vice-president, human resources and corporate services branch. We also welcome, from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the deputy minister, Leonard Edwards; and Doreen Steidle, the assistant deputy minister of corporate services.
As you know, in our second hour we are going to move to , which I don't think is going to take a lot of time. Because of starting late, if it suits with our guests here today, we may go over the twelve o'clock cut-off, if that's all right. It's just depending on how many questions we have.
Again, we welcome you.
I'm not certain of the order in which you want to go on. I see on our agenda we have Mr. Greenhill first, and maybe we would ask him to begin.
Go ahead, Mr. Greenhill.
I am very pleased to be here on behalf of the minister, Beverly Oda, to discuss the supplementary estimates as they apply to CIDA for the fiscal year 2007-08. I am joined by CIDA's acting vice-president of human resources and corporate services, Gregory Graham.
We're here today as part of CIDA's participation in the supplementary estimates process. I'll begin by noting that the proposed $15.5 million increase in CIDA's operating budget takes into account the additional resources required to cover the cost of two of CIDA's critical programs in Afghanistan and Sudan. Of this, $4.3 million is incremental funding for CIDA and $11.2 million will be transferred from CIDA's grants and contributions budget.
As you are aware, Afghanistan is presently our largest program. It is currently forecast that the agency will spend more than $250 million in grants and contributions to Afghanistan in the year 2007-08. To manage these disbursements the agency is increasing the number of staff in Kabul and Kandahar as well as at headquarters. Our field presence has more than doubled in the past two years. We are continuing to grow it. We will have 35 professional staff working in Afghanistan by April 2008 compared to just 10 in 2006. Overall, with the creation of the Afghanistan task force, we have grown from a program of just over 20 full-time employees to a staff of almost 80. Approximately $12.7 million will cover these costs of the Afghan program, which have ramped up in line with the broad programming.
Similarly, our enhanced programming in Sudan is matched with an additional operating cost of $2.8 million related to the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of projects. We are continuing to assist with a difficult humanitarian crisis in Darfur and at the same time we, along with other donors, are trying to reinforce the fragile north-south peace agreement through development support.
CIDA's program focuses on providing humanitarian assistance to people afflicted by the conflict; facilitating the reintegration of displaced persons; supporting basic education, health services, demining activities; and improving water and sanitation for those in need.
Since January 2006, CIDA has disbursed some $120 million in Sudan, including $72.7 million in crisis assistance and over $47.5 million for reconstruction efforts. To enable us to deliver our program we've created a new division for the Sudan program headed by a director and we are establishing positions in the field so that we can deploy staff to Khartoum and Juba. In Juba this involved CIDA's participation with the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom, and Norway in a joint donor office in southern Sudan, the world's first experience in fully harmonizing efforts and co-location among donors.
The supplementary estimates also include additional funding for grants and contributions for CIDA's support of the Lebanon relief fund, some $2.2 million, and humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in Sudan of $16 million. In Lebanon, Canadian support is making improvements to water and sanitation, shelter, protection, medical facilities, and repairs to essential infrastructure.
At the same time, there are a number of reductions to our grants and contributions budget totalling $30.3 million.
These reductions consist of a number of transfers to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The largest, involving $11.9 million, reflects the transfer of responsibility to DFAIT for direct support to the African Union Peace Operations in Darfur. The remainder of the transfers will be used to provide administrative support for CIDA's increased presence abroad, $4.5 million, and to finance scholarship programs announced by the in July in Latin America and the Caribbean, 0.7 million.
CIDA will also transfer $2 million to the International Development Research Centre for a project involving the Institute for Connectivity in the Americas.
Supplementary Estimates also identify the need for CIDA to invest an additional $26.6 million in the Canada Investment Fund for Africa, a fund that was set up to encourage investments in the securities of African companies.
The Fund has been quite successful in attracting private sector investments, and in order for CIDA to meet its obligations to match private sector investments, we require an additional $26.6 million this year, over and above the $19 million included in the Main Estimates.
This $26.6 million represents CIDA's full and final participation in the Fund.
The additional investment funds will allow CIDA to meet its contractual obligations to match anticipated investments by the private sector over the balance of the year.
Supplementary Estimates are also being used to authorize a $210.6 million increase in the Agency's grant authorities.
This increase will not result in a net increase in spending authority as the increase in grants will be offset by a corresponding decrease in contribution authorities.
The planned grant authorities will position the Agency to make grants to multilateral organizations for their programs in crisis states such as Afghanistan, Haiti, and Sudan; to maintain CIDA's level of core funding to certain multilateral institutions as well as to finance emergency food aid; to relieve chronic food shortages in Ethiopia; and to assist in the relief of HIV/AIDS and the strengthening of health systems in Africa.
Supplementary estimates are also being used to authorize a $210-million increase in the agency's grant authorities.
Mr. Chair, in all these countries and across our entire aid budget, CIDA's approach is one of effectiveness, focus, and accountability. This approach is helping us achieve results in Afghanistan and Haiti, in Sudan, and in other failed and fragile states. In Afghanistan, thanks to funding from Canada and other donor countries, there are now over six million children in school, including two million girls, which is unprecedented in that country's history. We provide funding to a global polio eradication program that is immunizing more than seven million children in Afghanistan, including some 350,000 in Kandahar.
A micro-credit loans and savings program is helping more than 400,000 adults start a business, rebuild their livelihoods, support their families, and raise healthy children. In Haiti, CIDA supports good governance, including the funding of democratic elections. We provide funding to Haiti to establish a more professional public service, improved infrastructure such as roads and electricity, and a better school system.
Yesterday in Tanzania, the Prime Minister, accompanied by Minister Oda, announced that Canada is mobilizing a broad coalition to strengthen health systems in sub-saharan Africa. This initiative will save a million lives. Canada's $105-million share alone will save more than 200,000 lives. These are results at their most important and most tangible. This is part of a larger 10-year program, called the African health systems initiative announced at a 2006 G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, and reaffirms Canada's engagement in Africa.
Mr. Chair, these are just some of the concrete gains being made through the work of CIDA. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to the committee today. I would of course be pleased to respond to any questions.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I'm very pleased to be here today to discuss the supplementary estimates of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
More and more, what happens abroad affects every dimension of Canadian life. It's therefore important to keep Parliament informed of what the department is doing on behalf of Canadians.
The Department leads and coordinates a government-wide approach to pursuing Canada's global agenda and promoting Canadian interests and values internationally. It provides passport, consular and business services to Canadians and Canadian companies, enabling their participation in the international community.
And it manages Canada's missions worldwide, providing the international platform of the entire Government of Canada—not just the Department.
That, in a nutshell, is what the department does. But what gives it distinctive character and quality?
Let me just say a few words about the government's foreign policy priorities, which are the setting for the supplementary estimates. I'll then briefly describe the context of those estimates.
Two of the government's key priorities are Afghanistan and the Americas, and Robert has referred to those priorities in the context of his presentation.
First, Afghanistan. Afghans have suffered through decades of war, as you know. When extremists took power there, the terrorists soon followed. When the Taliban government was defeated in 2001, they left a shattered country. Now Afghanistan is looking to the international community to help it get back on its feet.
It's in Canada's security interests to help Afghanistan become a stable, democratic, and self-sustaining state. Canada has joined with over 60 nations and international organizations to implement a plan for Afghanistan's recovery, called the Afghanistan Compact.
The compact sets out security, governance, and development as three essential and mutually supporting pillars. Our approach entirely reflects this interdependence. For example, our security efforts are also aimed at building capacity in government. Our development projects are also aimed at building a more secure environment for the Afghan people. The pillars reinforce one another, showing that Canadian interests and values come together in our mission in Afghanistan.
The Canadian presence is making a real difference to the Afghan people. At the same time, we're making a real contribution to international peace and security. This is important, honourable work. The courage of our soldiers and our civilians in Afghanistan is undeniable and all Canadians recognize that. The department leads the whole-of-government coordination of Canada's mission in Afghanistan, and we're proud of that role.
Another key priority of the government is the Americas. The Americas represent a unique opportunity for Canada to show leadership while also pursuing our interests. The government's approach is also based on three mutually reinforcing pillars. The aim is to increase prosperity, to enhance security, and to promote our fundamental values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
Regarding trade and investment, the Americas are a region of high potential for Canadian businesses. Indeed, we are currently the third-largest investor there, and growing.
The pointed out during his visit to the region last summer that open markets are the best means by which to build higher standards of living and to improve social conditions for all. We will work to secure open markets where possible.
The challenges to security and stability in the Americas stem primarily from weak democratic institutions and socio-economic inequities. Democratic accountability and clean government go hand in hand. That is why good governance matters.
We will therefore be working to help countries in their efforts to strengthen their democratic institutions. To this end we can draw from the Canadian models of governance as an example. By helping them improve the delivery of education, security, and health services, Canada brings not only our values to bear on the region, but we also bring greater security and stability to the region.
The department also focuses on other strategic objectives beyond these two key priorities. We're pursuing a safer, more secure, and prosperous Canada within the strengthened North American partnership. We seek accountable and consistent use of the multilateral system to deliver results on global issues of concern to Canadians. We seek to strengthen services to Canadians, including consular, passport, and global commercial activities. And we want greater effectiveness and efficiency from our departmental resources to support international policy objectives and program delivery at home and abroad.
These objectives are necessary for a number of reasons, starting with the world in which Canadians find themselves today.
Governments are facing growing demands on all fronts, as the distinction between what is purely domestic and what is international is increasingly blurred.
Increasingly we are encountering issues that touch on the responsibilities of other federal government departments, issues that have a domestic as well as an international dimension. This requires that we adopt a whole-of-government perspective and exercise our mandated role as the integrator and coordinator of Canadian foreign policy.
Let me give you an example. We're closely engaged with other government departments in developing an integrated northern strategy for Canada. Such a strategy aims at reinforcing the expression of our sovereignty in the Arctic and ensuring that our position is well understood by our neighbours and international partners. Climate change and environment are other issues where domestic interests blend with those of foreign policy.
At the same time, the world itself is changing: power is shifting to Asia, India and China are on the rise, global economic competition is fierce and unrelenting. Canada must adjust to these new realities. We have to identify global trends, focus on key priorities and strategic objectives, and realign resources to maximum effect. That's what we do in our department.
It's against that background that we present our supplementary estimates. The supplementary estimates show how we are working to fulfill our whole-of-government responsibilities while remaining prudent financially.
To illustrate: we run a global network of offices—embassies, consulates and trade offices. This network provides an international platform not just for us, but also for more than 20 other federal government departments and agencies. All of them with programs and responsibilities to deliver internationally.
Most of the missions in the network offer a full range of services to Canadians. And demand is growing across our global network.
Naturally enough, in this environment of increasing demand, different needs arise in the course of a year. They have to be met, whether it's for consular services or elsewhere in the department's work. In some cases, resources can be transferred within existing programs; in other cases, new moneys have to be found.
Let me cite just a few items in this regard that appear in the estimates.
We need to improve the security of our missions abroad. Personnel are serving in areas where there are increased terrorism risks. In some countries our missions must be upgraded to meet current standards for natural disasters. We're also seeking new funds for our humanitarian and peace operations in Sudan. A significant amount of money will provide air support for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur.
Passport Canada needs major new funding to meet new demands. Since April 2007, 45% more passports have been issued than last year at the same time. This reflects changes in American border measures. We have to make sure Canadians get the service they need and deserve.
Items such as these and others are addressed in detail in the supplementary estimates that are before you. In closing, let me say as deputy minister of foreign affairs just how immensely proud I am of the women and men who work so tirelessly day after day in my department to defend and advance Canada's interests and values internationally. They're an extremely dedicated group of employees who provide critical support to Canadians in every walk of life, in some very challenging environments around the world, each and every day. They are truly remarkable, and they're making a difference.
Here on the home front, the department's employees once again this year demonstrated their generosity, if I may say so, to those less fortunate, donating over $1 million to the charitable campaign here in the national capital region. We owe a lot to their dedicated service to Canada.
I'd be pleased now to join Robert in answering your questions.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Messrs. Greenhill, Graham and Edwards and Ms. Steidle.
In your statement, Mr. Greenhill, you say:
||[...] we have created a new division for the Sudan program headed by a director and we are establishing two Canadian positions in the field to be able to deploy staff to Khartoum and Juba.
||In Juba, this involves CIDA's participation with the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmarks, United Kingdom, and Norway in a Joint Donor Office in South Sudan, the world's first experience in fully harmonizing efforts among donors.
I hail this initiative in a way, although it comes very late given the current genocide in Darfur.
I would like CIDA to be much more proactive and to try to intervene at the outset, not two years later, as is the case in Darfur. In West Darfur, we are currently witnessing an arabization of the entire region and the displacement of refugees who are currently in camps in order to move them closer to the Janjawid militias. However, we know that if the refugees are closer to the Janjawids, the genocide will be even greater than it currently is.
Chad and the Central African Republic are also on the verge of conflict. We know there are millions of refugees in Chad. Is CIDA or the Department of Foreign Affairs negotiating with the President of Chad, Mr. Deby, to see how Canada could intervene in the refugee camps? There will be increasing numbers of refugees in the regions, and the consequences will be even greater.
We have established two Canadian positions in the field. In view of CIDA's activities, what will the mandate of those two Canadians be in Khartoum and Juba? When do you think you will really be in a position to know what Canada will be doing? Given its current structure, which is very rigid, CIDA will need a mandate; it will come back to Canada and return over there, as a result of which, in six months, nothing will have been done. I'd like to know the exact mandate of these individuals and when they will be reporting.
The aid that CIDA and other donor countries are providing in Juba is an excellent thing. However, CIDA and the Department of Foreign Affairs should be working with the countries bordering on Darfur, particularly with Egypt and Lybia, even though the conference in Lybia did not work very well. In fact, it did not work at all. By having only donor countries, we are patching up the problem and not finding any solutions. In my mind, Egypt is part of the solution.
Let me try to provide examples in both cases.
With respect to Afghanistan, of course, we all recognize that security has been the first requirement in that country, particularly in the south with the very unstable conditions that exist there.
Providing security to the region then facilitates the opportunity to bring our development aspect to the table and to provide for the kind of assistance that is needed to provide the citizens with basic services and so on.
We also want to ensure that the government in Kabul and in Kandahar have governance structures that are properly able to ensure that over the long term the Afghans themselves can take charge of their country, as they are doing, and begin to deliver those services themselves.
We want to ensure that we are handing over to Afghanistan and to the people of Afghanistan a secure situation, that we provide some assistance so that they can put their social services in order, and that they have the governance structures in place to do that.
All of these things interrelate, and we can't simply have a security line of approach without looking at the longer-term social and political stability in the region.
The same is true in the Americas. What we're talking about there is a little different. We do not have physical insecurity in the same sense that we have it in Afghanistan, but there are issues around drug trafficking crime. There are also physical security issues just as simple as the high incidence of natural disasters and the lack of security in a broad sense that this brings to a population always faced with the difficulties of a typhoon or an earthquake.
So there, our security approach is quite different from what it is in Afghanistan, but it serves the same purpose; that is, we try to help provide stable and secure lives for the people, to the extent that we can help with the development of crime control and policing services and so on. At the same time, we believe we have models of governance in Canada, institutions in Canada, systems in Canada that can be of value to governments in the region.
Finally, on the prosperity side again, we know that prosperity and the broad enjoyment of prosperity by a population helps put security in place and then will sustain the strong values that we believe need to underpin it.
So our prosperity agenda in the Americas is to engage Canadian businesspeople and Canadian institutions in economic and business relationships with firms in the Americas, to promote good two-way economic development that will set the stage for a stable, secure, and prosperous situation for citizens of the region.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's nice to be back at the foreign affairs committee.
Thank you for appearing and for your presentations. I want to echo your positive comments about your staff. I must ask you to pass on my thanks and compliments to your staff on the briefings and the information. They seem to have been very helpful and very open. This department has taken a lot of criticism in recent months, and I'm sure you're thick-skinned enough to absorb more.
Rather than adding to the pile-on that you've experienced recently, I'd like to begin by saying that I'm very pleased, given this “out of Africa” thesis that we've been listening to for the last while from some in the opposition parties that we are apparently as a government withdrawing from Africa and not continuing the support that's been offered in the past, to see the Prime Minister's announcement yesterday on the $105 million Canada-led initiative to save a million lives in Africa.
I think your department believes, your staff believes, and we believe as a government that there's a role for us to play there and that we should play it—in particular, on reducing child mortality and maternal mortality. I'm pleased to see the initiative announced, in particular the willingness to address the critical shortage of health care workers, and in particular expanding on our previous announcement of an African health systems initiative, something that has already seen some positive results, I believe, in terms of, for example, the vitamin A supplement program, the mosquito-netting program for malaria prevention, and so on. There is a number of initiatives there that are making a positive difference, I believe.
It's great to have these announcements; it's great to say we're going to save a million lives. It's wonderful, and I think everybody should be encouraged by the noble intent. But what plans do you have to track the results of this initiative? What specifically are you going to do as a department to make sure that our landing is as good as our take-off?
It's an excellent question. It has been one of the real focal points for what we're doing, because the real hallmark of the agency is to actually show real results and actually be able to cost the results.
Over the last half-decade or more, Canada has been a real leader in some of the more innovative approaches, like the provision of insecticide-treated bed nets, which we've seen leads to huge reduction in mortality, particularly of young children and pregnant mothers. We've seen how the use of vitamin A and other key interventions can make a real difference.
What this catalytic initiative is doing, this initiative to save a million lives, is setting a goal that is actually very simple, quite fundamental. It's to say that over the next several years we will, in a demonstrable fashion, stop a million people from dying, primarily children and expectant mothers. We'll do it through using a series of proven interventions, such as insecticide-treated bed nets, ACT treatment, dealing with diarrhea through simple antibiotics. Through about eight to ten interventions, we believe we can reduce mortality rates in certain areas by 40% or more. We also believe, through the evidence, that we can do it at a cost per life saved of less than $500.
What is somewhat unique about this approach—
First of all, you're absolutely right about the lives being saved. One of the great things about Afghanistan is that we know that every year there are 80,000 more children who are living, including 40,000 babies because of improvements in mortality rates, since the fall of the Taliban. So it's a very concrete sense of accomplishment.
In terms of Haiti, where Canada is, of course, the number-two donor—only after the United States—we've been playing a critical role in both the humanitarian crisis after 2004 and now the rebuilding. We're working very closely with the government and other donors in terms of how we have a more coordinated approach.
For example, if we look at education or health, we're trying to develop a sectoral focus where different donors will decide what they are going to be doing or what they are not going to be doing. A key element in that is actually the governments taking ownership of their development agenda. So they're actually putting in what under development speak is called the poverty reduction strategy planner, PRSP, but it's essentially a framework, a strategic plan for where Haiti is going and what the requirements are in different sectors.
That's being put forward by the government. We're now working with different donors to determine who can be doing what in a way that's most complementary and that leverages our skills. That's a process that we think is going to accelerate over the next six to twelve months. It's clearly an area where we have a major role to play in terms of helping to coordinate the other donors.
Why don't I start off, and then Robert can follow?
The fact is that we coordinated our presentations today. Maybe that is the first thing to say. But it's an example of the fairly close coordination we personally have. We speak to each other pretty regularly, two or three times a week, and talk about what the agency and the department are doing. We meet regularly, and so do our officials. So in terms of mechanisms, there are plenty of informal mechanisms. I know our ministers and their offices also stay in close touch.
I like to think that we have quite a close, informal way of working together. There are a number of interdepartmental structures that exist or that we're thinking of creating that will help to deal with coordination. I have recently established a group of deputy ministers on representation abroad. All of those departments that I mentioned in my statement as having interests in our representation abroad meet every couple of months and talk about some of the very practical issues of managing our international network, the numbers of people who are moving every year, the new resources we're putting in, where we're bringing people back home, and so on. It's a highly complex management issue, and of course CIDA and Immigration are the two key partners that my department has in our international platform.
We also work very closely together on the international assistance envelope and its management, informally and formally. We very closely coordinate the work that the government does in terms of determining where assistance money should be spent. For example, in the work we've done on Afghanistan there is assistance money that has come that is part of my department's spending structures as well as, of course, CIDA's, which has the largest portion. The Afghanistan task force is another excellent example of where coordination takes place, not only on a daily basis, but sometimes also on an hourly basis.
I'd like to think that we are doing quite well in terms of the overall coordination. Could we do better? I'm sure we could. We always could do better, but I think the record right now is pretty good.
(Clauses 2 to 12 inclusive agreed to on division)
The Chair: Shall the schedule carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Chair: All right, the schedule carries on division.
Shall clause 1, the short title, carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall the title carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Shall the bill carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: On division.
The Chair: It is carried on division.
Shall I report the bill to the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.