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Canada’s aid and development assistance in response to COVID 19

On 5 May 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an end to its highest alert level for COVID-19, known as a “public health emergency of international concern”. Over three years, the global COVID-19 pandemic has increased inequalities and reversed development gains. The pandemic particularly impacted women and children who were already experiencing poverty, exclusion and/or marginalization more severely.

Canada is proud to have helped lead a robust global response to COVID-19, contributing to increased equitable access to vaccines, tests treatments and personal protective equipment (PPE), while also reinforcing essential health services. Canada’s efforts maintained a focus on the most vulnerable and the differentiated needs of women and girls.

As the world moves beyond pandemic response, Canada remains committed to strengthening health systems and pandemic preparedness in low- and lower-middle income countries as part of an inclusive and sustainable recovery. In 2023, Canada will continue to support country-led efforts to protect high-risk populations against COVID-19 and integrate COVID-19 into routine health services, including through the COVAX Facility and Canada’s $317 million signature Global Initiative for Vaccine Equity (CanGIVE). CanGIVE will also strengthen health systems and build vaccine manufacturing capacity in 12 focus countries, most of them in Africa.

Going forward, Canada is helping lead global processes to apply learnings from the COVID-19 experience and ensure the world is better prepared to manage future pandemics.

Canada’s Global COVID-19 Response during the Acute Phase of the Pandemic

As a part of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada’s response during the acute phase of the pandemic included a particular focus on supporting:

Between February 2020 and May 2023, Canada contributed over $3.5 billion in international assistance in response to COVID-19. This included:

Canada prioritized support across all pillars of the ACT-Accelerator, including the Health Systems and Response Connector, recognizing that a strong public health response required robust testing, access to vaccines and treatments – including oxygen – and strong systems to ensure their effective delivery.

In addition to Canada’s support to the ACT-Accelerator, Canada also made the following contributions:

In April 2020 Canada extended a $1-billion loan to the International Monetary Fund’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since May 2020, Canada has also provided more than $70 million in temporary debt service relief for the poorest countries through the G20 and Paris Club agreed Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI).

On October 30, 2021, at the G20 Leaders’ Summit, the Prime Minister announced that Canada will channel $3.7 billion, or 20 per cent of its newly allocated International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights, to support low-income and other vulnerable countries. As part of this, the Prime Minister announced that approximately $982 million would be distributed to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust.

At the 2022 G20 Leaders’ Summit, Canada announced $50 million to the Pandemic Fund to address the significant financing gaps on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (PPR). While the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, now is the time to ensure the world is better prepared ahead of future health emergencies.

Equitable access to vaccines, tests and treatments

Canada was an early supporter of the ACT-Accelerator, joining the ACT-Accelerator on May 4, 2020. This global partnership succeed in increasing equal and affordable access to COVID 19 health products for people worldwide, including:

Canada is proud to have been one of the largest contributors to ACT-Accelerator partners, contributing over $2.1 billion across the following areas:

The COVAX Facility

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada was a leading donor to the COVAX Facility, in an effort to support equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for low- and lower-middle income countries.

The COVAX Facility, administered by Gavi with support from the CEPI, the WHO and UNICEF, provided the main operational support for vaccine delivery under the Access to Covid–19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator partnership. Canada contributed over $840 million to the COVAX Facility to procure , distribute and deliver COVID-19 vaccines for Advance Market Commitment (AMC) countries. This included up to $10 million to design and implement COVAX’s dose sharing mechanism, which made it possible to share over 922 million donated doses.

UNICEF was the key procurement and delivery partner for the COVAX Facility, along with Revolving Fund, which provides similar support for countries in the Americas.

On December 31, 2023, the COVAX Facility ceased operations. COVID-19 operations then shifted into the core business of Gavi, and its Alliance partners, the WHO and UNICEF. Low- and lower-middle income countries will continue to receive COVID-19 vaccines and delivery support from Gavi in 2024 and 2025.

“Give A Vax” matching fund

On November 3, 2021, the Government of Canada announced that it would match, dollar for dollar, the full $9,675,928 donated by individual Canadians to the #GiveAVax Fund through UNICEF Canada.

Thanks to the generous contributions of individual Canadians, a total of $19,351,857 (donations and match) supported vaccination campaigns in Malawi, Belize, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon.

The funds covered the cost to transport vaccines to these countries, purchase syringes and personal protective equipment , keep vaccines viable by protecting the cold chain during the journey, and train health care workers to effectively administer the vaccines and safely dispose of needles and waste.

The “Give A Vax ” matching fund ran from July 12 to September 30, 2021.

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