The Philippines made good progress in meeting several of the Millennium Development Goals between 2000 and 2015. It achieved gender equality in education, reduced the mortality rate among children aged five and younger, reduced the number of tuberculosis cases, and increased access to water and sanitation services.

Despite the fact that the country has strong potential for development, the Philippines still ranks 115 out of 188 countries on the United Nations Development Programme's 2015 Human Development Index. Progress is threatened by economic and social inequality, as well as by regional disparities, especially in the conflict-affected provinces on the island of Mindanao: ensuring that social services reach the poor and most marginalized remains a major challenge. In 2015, almost one in five Filipinos lived on less than US$1.25/day. In addition, frequent natural disasters such as typhoons, storm surges, earthquakes and flooding have resulted in severe loss of life and property and have hampered efforts to reduce poverty.

Women in the labour force are confined largely to low-wage, low-productivity jobs and have limited access to land ownership, credit and training.

Although annual economic growth over the 2010-2014 period averaged 6.24 percent according to the Asian Development Bank, the economy is vulnerable to shifts in international conditions, in part because it relies heavily on remittances from millions of overseas Filipino workers. The investment climate suffers from low competitiveness, the high cost of doing business, and a lack of adequate and reliable infrastructure.

Weak local governance is recognized as a key constraint to the country’s sustained economic growth and poverty reduction, although a number of key governance reforms were undertaken in recent years. The Philippines has a vibrant private sector and an active civil society, both important partners in development.

Find out what Canada is doing to support development in the Philippines.

Thematic Focus

In 2014, the Philippines was confirmed as a country of focus for the Government of Canada’s international development efforts.

The goal of Canada's international development assistance program in the Philippines is to support sustainable economic growth by improving the climate for investment and advancing the economic opportunities of poor women and men, including helping those affected by natural disasters to become more economically resilient. Canada works closely with the Government of the Philippines and other interlocutors to ensure that the program’s goals respond to the development needs of the country.

Economic growth

Canada helps the Philippines strengthen its investment climate and advance economic opportunities for poor women and men by working with national and local governments as well as non-governmental organizations (civil society, academe and private sector) to:

  • improve the competitiveness of key economic sectors;
  • improve investments in quality and disaster-resilient infrastructure;
  • simplify business regulations and processes;
  • improve sector-specific value chains, which include the full range of activities required to bring a product from an idea to production, to delivery, to consumers, to disposal after use;
  • rebuild livelihoods in regions affected by Typhoon Haiyan; and
  • deliver programs and services that help poor women and men entrepreneurs and low-skilled workers develop business skills and skills for employment, increase productivity and improve their access to financing and markets.

Key anticipated results

  • Improved legal, policy, and regulatory framework for gender-responsive private sector-led growth, enhanced competitiveness of key economic sectors, and increased investments in resilient infrastructure.
  • More micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, especially those headed by women, and smallholder farmers have access to business development support services, technology, and finance to enhance their productivity and access to domestic and regional markets. 
  • Increased participation of targeted women and men affected by Typhoon Haiyan in sustained and resilient economic activities.
  • Increased access of low-skilled workers, targeting youth and women, to high-quality and demand-driven skills development and on-the-job training opportunities.

Progress on Aid Effectiveness

The Philippines adheres to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and has taken steps to improve donor alignment and harmonization, strengthen local ownership and integrate results-based management systems. In May 2015, Canada and the Philippines signed a mutual accountability framework (MAF) reaffirming the aid effectiveness principles of transparent and effective development cooperation between Canada and the Philippines for the period 2014-2019 (see link to the MAF below).




In fiscal year 2014-2015, Canada contributed to strengthening the Philippines’ investment climate by working with national and local levels of government to improve the policy and legal environment for increased investments in infrastructure, tourism and agribusiness, and to reduce compliance and transactions costs. More specifically:

  • Canadian development programming supported changes to 22 national policies or regulations and 27 local policies or ordinances in 59 local government units with the aim of improving the trade and investment climate, as well as the competitiveness of the agribusiness and tourism sectors.
  • Business registration procedures were streamlined in 15 cities.
  • Five public-private partnership (PPP) projects (two water supply projects, a transport system project, and an expressway and light rail project) were competitively tendered, three tenders were awarded, and three reached financial close.

Canada also contributed to advancing the economic opportunities of poor women and men, including out-of-school youth. More specifically:

  • Through its development programming, Canada assisted more than 5,000 at-risk, out-of-school youth, women and men microentrepreneurs, smallholder farmers, and low-skilled tourism workers (42 percent of whom were women) improve their employment and business management skills, productivity and access to finance, green technology and markets.

By working with Canadian and international partners, Canada is working to improve the health and rights of women and children globally, which includes the Philippines.

2014-2015 international assistance disbursements to the Philippines (in millions of dollars)

Global Affairs Canada21.02
Other departments and sources0.65