Address by Minister of Health Rona Ambrose: Press Conference with Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme

May 28, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario

Check Against Delivery

Good morning and thank you all for coming.

It is my pleasure to be here with Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme.

It was a great to tour with SickKids with Ertharin and our other guests.

SickKids is more than a world-class hospital for children in Canada.

SickKids is also working to improve the health of women and children overseas.

Namely, by training health workers in Ghana, Ethiopia, and Tanzania.

The World Food Programme—or WFP—is the United Nations’ frontline agency in the fight against hunger.

It responds quickly to emergencies and saves lives by getting food to the people who need it the most. 

But it also works to prevent hunger and stem malnutrition in the future.

Canada is proud to be a global leader in supporting nutrition around the world.

Increasing food security and ensuring access to nutritious food are at the heart of poverty reduction.

And fundamental pillars of Canada’s maternal, newborn and child health initiative.

Access to healthy, nutritious food—particularly in a child’s first 1,000 days—touches their entire life.

Nutrition levels during that period impact whether a child will have the strength to reach their full mental and physical potential.

Canada was proud to be the World Food Programme’s third largest donor last year.

We provided more than $370 million to its global operations.

The decision is simple: children who get enough food are less likely to get sick or potentially even die.

They are more likely to stay in school, contribute to their families and communities, and to reach their full potential.

And that is why today, I am pleased to announce that Canada is contributing an additional $98 million to support the World Food Programme’s humanitarian work around the world.

Already this year, Canada has announced support to this programme for high-profile situations.

We are working together in Syria and the surrounding region, as well as the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Today’s funding focuses on other regions of significant need that we don’t always hear about in the news, such as Ethiopia, Yemen and Haiti.    

For example, in Haiti, Canada’s support will contribute to the distribution of food or vouchers to hundreds of thousands of people.

As well as providing supplementary feeding to 75,000 children and nutrition supplements to close to 50,000 pregnant women.

In Mozambique – and I am pleased to say we are joined today by Mozambique’s Minister of Health, Dr. Alexandre Manguele – Canada’s support will help with general food distributions or cash-grants/food-for-work for up to 250,000 people facing food insecurity as a result of drought and / or flooding.

And those are just two examples.

Canada will continue to work all across the world to help those in need.

Just last week, I was in Geneva at the World Health Assembly, where I had the pleasure of announcing the “Innovating for Maternal and Child Health in Africa program” – a program that seeks to improve maternal, newborn and child health systems to become more equitable, using primary health care as an entry point.

I am proud to say under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada is bringing global attention to the issue of maternal and child health.

In a few hours, we will be opening the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit.

And one of the first topics we will touch on is nutrition.

In fact, Ertharin will be leading that discussion.

So I want to thank you for coming.

And thank you for your organization’s tireless efforts around the world.

Canada is pleased to have the World Food Programme as a strategic partner.

And to help you deliver concrete results for those in need around the world.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the conference.

I am now pleased to turn the floor over to Ms. Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme.

Thank you.