Canada’s international assistance and the Caribbean Program
Fourteen countries in total—11 island states and three continental ones are served by Canada's Caribbean Program.
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia,
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Canada has a separate bilateral program for Cuba and Haiti as well.
These 14 countries have a population of approximately 7 million in total. With undiversified economies, a weak private sector and lacking economies of scale, they compete with each other for tourism. The tourist industry accounts for 30% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and nearly one-third of the employment in the region. In addition, the countries remain highly indebted—public sector debt averages 80% of the GDP (IMF 2016)—raising risks of macroeconomic instability. High debt servicing is already an obstacle to economic growth in the region.The Eastern Caribbean region is situated in a hurricane belt and is a seismically active area—12 times as exposed to natural disasters as the world average. These circumstances result in a significant draw on public finances and undermine private sector capacity to sustain investment and growth.
Governments face serious fiscal difficulties, and public spending is being cut. Private sector investments and external capital flows have also declined. Expected effects are a rise in unemployment, a greater degree of inequality, and an increase in crime. Job losses could lead to an ever-expanding and insecure informal sector.
The region has taken steps to join the separate economies in a single market called the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, although the process is not yet complete. Additional political will, leadership, and capacity development, coupled with broad based economic growth, will be needed to advance regional integration.
Overall, the governments in the region are politically stable, with a long tradition of democratic elections. Nevertheless, further work is needed to build the capacity of regional institutions and national governments.
A more competitive regional economy will provide the basis for investment, economic growth, and poverty reduction. Cooperation to develop effective regional services will strengthen security and social development. Caribbean states are committed to democratic practices, respecting human rights and fighting corruption.
Our international development assistance
Search the Project Browser to find out what Canada is doing to support development in the Caribbean.
Canada supports the development agenda established by CARICOM to achieve regional cooperation and integration.
Our long-term goal in the Caribbean region is to help build a more prosperous and integrated Caribbean community that is able to provide opportunity and security to its citizens.
Canada's support is directed at creating an enabling and predictable environment for economic growth. This can happen through the increased capacity and accountability of public institutions and by fostering a more competitive private sector.
Assistance for improving the administrative capacities of governments
Key anticipated results:
- strengthen the management of public financial resources, including debt management
- more highly-trained staff in ministries of finance and central banks
- established national debt-management policies and procedures in eight countries
- improved justice system
- Increased capacity to manage, mitigate and respond to natural disasters and the effect of climate change
Assistance for enabling sustainable and inclusive economic growth
Key anticipated results:
- improved environment for business development, trade, and integration
- strengthened technical, planning, financial, and managerial capacities of small and medium-sized firms
- public-private joint investments in four physical infrastructure projects
- strengthen the productivity of small- and medium-sized enterprises and increase participation in regional and global markets
- promote public-private partnerships that generate employment and attract investment for growth
- increase access to employment skills for youth
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