Election 2019: Resources to inform your vote

More than half of Canadians say that a federal party’s position on international aid will be important or somewhat important to how they vote in the federal election

With just a few days until the federal election, you’re likely mulling over how you can vote for the issues you care about most. International assistance, immigration and climate change have made many headlines in the context of the election – so let's review some of the facts:

#1: Canada spends relatively little on international assistance.

You may think Canada spends heavily on international assistance. Back in 1969, Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson committed Canada to a global target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income on development spending, or what the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has dubbed Official Development Assistance (ODA).

Canada currently spends just under 0.2 cents on ODA out of every dollar, far below the 17 cents that surveyed Canadians think their government spends on aid. In fact, Canada's spending on foreign aid as a percentage of gross national income is at a fifty-year low, placing us behind at least fourteen of our peer countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

#2: Legally, Canadian expenditures for development are required to fight poverty.

In 2008, the Parliament of Canada adopted the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act. This law says that "that all Canadian official development assistance abroad is provided with a central focus on poverty reduction and in a manner that is consistent with Canadian values, Canadian foreign policy, the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness of March 2, 2005, sustainable development and democracy promotion and that promotes international human rights standards."

This critical legislation ensures that our aid remains focused on poverty alleviation and holds the government accountable in this regard.

#3: Most Canadians support development assistance.

According to a recent Nanos poll, more than half of Canadians say that a federal party’s position on international aid will be important or somewhat important to how they vote in the federal election. Similar polling on behalf of the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children's Health (CanWaCH) shows that 81 per cent of Canadians strongly or somewhat agree that Canada should do its fair share along with other countries to help developing countries. Nearly 8 in 10 respondents strongly or somewhat agree that the Government of Canada should fund programs that improve and enhance sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls in developing countries.

#4: Canada can do more to help the world's refugees.

Around the world, nearly 71 million people have been forced from their homes. Almost 26 million have been forced from their home country altogether, with most of these refugees finding safety in low- and middle-income countries where resources are already stretched thin. Few will ever reach the shores of wealthy countries like Canada. In 2018, the Government of Canada resettled 28,000 refugees. This is just a fraction of its plans to welcome between 290,000 and 330,000 new permanent residents to Canada that year, up from roughly 250,000 per annum over the previous decade. According to the Conference Board of Canada, the Government of Canada should increase those rates even further, as immigration will help overcome demographic challenges and sustain economic growth.

#5: Climate change disproportionately affects the world's poorest people.

Climate action is critical in the fight to end global poverty. For the poorest and marginalized communities around the world, climate change compounds their struggle for equality. In 2009, Canada joined other developed countries in committing to mobilize USD $100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries deal with the impacts of climate change. Yet in 2017 Canada ranked 11th among major bilateral climate donors. In April, the House of Commons Environment and Sustainable Development Committee called on the Government of Canada to "increase its climate finance further in future years with the goal of arriving at Canada's 'fair share' of global climate finance based on the size of its economy; approximately $1.8 billion annually" - more than double our current commitments.

So where do the parties stand on the these issues? Here are a few resources:

Advance polling is now over, so if you haven't already cast your ballot now is the time to make a plan to vote on election day, Monday, October 21. Remember to check your voter information card or use Election Canada's Voter Information Service to determine the location and opening hours of your voting station.

Happy voting!