Address by Senator Larry Smith: Funding announcement for McGill University

April 17, 2014 – Montreal, Quebec

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Thank you for that kind introduction, Dr. Madramootoo.

Good morning, Dr. Goldstein and Dr. Marquis, distinguished faculty, students. 

It's my pleasure to be here as we once again underline the amazing partnership that the Government and McGill University have built over the years.

Being at McGill always brings back fond memories of my time here as a law student in the '70s.

McGill had a reputation as one of Canada's top research universities back then, and it still does now.  

Through its efforts to advance research and knowledge, design new technologies, and inspire people to action, McGill has brought significant benefits to Canadians and other communities around the world – whether it's in health, prosperity, democracy, or general well-being.

The Government of Canada and McGill University have been partners in international development since 1982.

Over the years, we have supported more than 100 projects undertaken by McGill in developing countries.

These projects have improved health systems, law reform, social-service delivery, water-resource management during weather emergencies, and food security.

Most recently, in 2010, the Government was proud to support the launch of the McGill University Institute for Global Food Security, to provide training and capacity-building on food security in developing countries.

Canadians can be proud of these investments, which are helping people in developing countries access the tools they need to rise out of poverty.

Today, I am pleased to build on this longstanding relationship with McGill University and announce $3.5 million over five years for a new development project in Ghana, called "Building Capacity for Sustainable Lives".

Working in partnership with World Vision Canada, the University of Ghana, and other local organizations, this project will improve the economic well-being, food security, nutrition and health of some 21,000 rural residents in the Upper Manya Krobo District.  

This district is a largely underserved rural area in the southern part of Ghana, where 80 percent of the people work as farmers.

The project will help to diversify the economy and improve health services and nutrition, particularly for women and girls.

I was interested to learn that, as part of these efforts, McGill will work with a well organized group of women leaders known as the Queen Mothers, recognized for their microcredit programs and training for women and young people.

This project complements our Government's top development priority to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in developing countries.

It also demonstrates Canada's commitment to food security as a critical building block to achieving sustainable economic growth and poverty alleviation.

Our Government recognizes the power of strong Canadian academic institutions, such as McGill, to give people in developing countries the tools they need to escape poverty and lead healthy, productive lives.

On behalf of those who will benefit, I want to thank McGill for its dedication to international development.

This project comes at a critical time for Ghana.

Since 1990, the Ghanaian government has worked closely with the donor community to halve the number of its citizens living in extreme poverty.

However, about 30 percent of Ghanaians still live on less than US$1.25 per day.

Some two million of its people have limited access to food.

Children are especially vulnerable.

Approximately 13 percent of children under the age of five are currently underweight.

That is why, today, I am pleased to announce two other projects that are already underway, and are benefitting the rural poor in Ghana.

The Government is contributing $19 million to the Canadian Hunger Foundation to increase food security in three northern regions of Ghana.

This project will work with smallholder farmers and their households to increase and diversify agricultural production, income, and assets.

And I am pleased to tell you that a commitment of $7.7 million over five years to the Canadian Co-operative Association will give farmers training, better farm technology, and access to funds to grow their businesses.

As a result, some smallholder farmers will be able to make the move to commercial farming. This, in turn, will create even more jobs and a more vibrant agricultural private sector in Ghana.

I look forward to seeing the results of all three projects.

It is partnerships such as these that are helping to raise some of the most vulnerable people out of poverty and into a more promising, prosperous future for themselves and their families.

Thank you.