Canada announces the 'Pennies and More For Polio Initiative' with the Rotary Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

September 27, 2012 - Today, the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, announced the Pennies and More for Polio Initiative at a side event at the 67th annual United Nations General Assembly in New York. This joint initiative between the Government of Canada, Rotary Foundation, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation presents an opportunity to engage Canadians in the global effort to eradicate polio.

"Canada's deep commitment to eradicating polio has meant that hundreds of thousands of children have been immunized, often in remote, impoverished, and very insecure regions of the world," said Minister Fantino. "The unwavering commitment of countries around the world, and of organizations such as the Rotary Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will help put an end to this devastating disease, which can be prevented with a simple vaccine. The Pennies and More for Polio Initiative announced today will help us to achieve that goal."

The Pennies and More for Polio initiative invites Canadians to join in the fight to eradicate polio. The Government of Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will provide funds to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative at a ratio of $1 for every $1 raised by Rotarians in Canada, up to a maximum of $1 million. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will likewise provide funds of equal value, at a ratio of $1 for every $1 raised by Rotarians in Canada. This would result in every $1 raised by the Rotary Foundation leveraging an additional $2.

"Canada and CIDA have proudly contributed to global efforts to eliminate polio, particularly where it threatens the health of the most vulnerable," said Wilf Wilkinson of the Rotary Foundation. "This joint initiative will allow more Canadian individuals, groups, and organizations to contribute directly in the eradication of polio."

"Canada and the Rotary Foundation have demonstrated a consistent commitment to eradicating polio, and they offer critical support around the world for this achievable goal," said Chris Elias, president of the global development program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "In times of fiscal austerity, this innovative program led by CIDA and the Rotary Foundation will help strengthen the global movement to end polio and lead us on a path to protect all children from vaccine-preventable diseases. We are proud to lend our support to encourage even more support."

For more information on the Government of Canada's support for polio eradication, please visit CIDA's Web site.

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For more information, members of the media should contact:

Stephanie Rea
Director of Communications to the Minister of International Cooperation
Telephone: 819-953-6238
Email: stephanie.rea@acdi-cida.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Telephone: 819-953-6534
Email: media@acdi-cida.gc.ca

Follow us on Twitter: @CIDA_CA

Backgrounder

At a side event at the 67th annual United Nations General Assembly, Canada's Minister of International Cooperation Julian Fantino, together with the Rotary Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced a joint undertaking called the "Pennies and More for Polio Initiative."

Last year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper reiterated Canada's strong support for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is a public-private partnership whose goal is to eradicate polio worldwide. The GPEI was launched in 1988 by national governments, the World Health Organization, Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF. The Government of Canada continues to be committed to the global effort to combat polio. The initiative announced today aims to generate awareness and engage Canadians through the Rotary Foundation's demonstrated efforts in polio eradication. 

The Government of Canada, though the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will support the Rotary Foundation's fundraising goal of $1 million toward polio eradication by providing funds to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative at a ratio of $1 for every $1 raised by Rotarians in Canada, up to a maximum of $1  million. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will likewise provide funds of equal value at a ratio of $1 for every $1 raised by Rotarians in Canada. This will result in every dollar raised by the Rotary Foundation in Canada until March 1, 2013, leveraging an additional $2.

The Pennies and More for Polio Initiative will generate:

  • a greater awareness and understanding by Canadians of efforts regarding polio eradication;
  • a way for Canadian individuals, groups, and organizations to contribute directly to polio eradication; and
  • Additional resources for polio eradication. 

These additional resources provided to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative will contribute to a reduction in polio cases and will build on the Government of Canada's ongoing commitment to improve maternal, newborn, and child health. Canada's support for polio eradication demonstrates Prime Minister Harper's leadership in improving the health of mothers and newborn children through the Muskoka Initiative to reduce maternal mortality and childhood morbidity.

Since 2000, Canada has supported polio-eradication efforts by working with partners to immunize millions of children and help eradicate polio in the remaining polio-affected countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.

For more information on the Government of Canada's support for polio eradication, please visit CIDA's Web site.