CARE Canada speaks before House of Commons Committee on the exacerbation of international crises due to COVID-19

OTTAWA, NOVEMBER 19, 2020 – Today, Barbara Grantham, CARE Canada’s President and CEO, appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in the context of the Committee’s study on, “Vulnerabilities Created And Exacerbated By COVID-19 In Crisis and Conflict-Affected Areas.”

CARE Canada’s appearance is in preparation for a study by the committee on the aforementioned topic, providing trusted and holistic expertise to the Canadian government on dire and pressing humanitarian needs compounded by the pandemic. Today’s hearing will inform recommendations for Canada’s coordination, capacity and preparedness for its international response to COVID-19.

While COVID-19 outbreaks have been devastating in a myriad of contexts, the ramifications have been most profound for the 2 billion people living in fragile and conflict-affected settings around the world. CARE conducted Rapid Gender Analyses on the impacts of COVID-19 in almost forty countries and regions since March. These analyses bring three key messages into focus:

  • First, COVID-19 outbreaks in humanitarian contexts have exposed and exacerbated existing vulnerabilities, and will disproportionately affect women and girls.
  • Second, the secondary impacts of the virus can be even more devastating than the pandemic itself.
  • Third, even after the outbreak has been contained, the after-effects will reverberate for years to come.

During her opening statement, Barbara noted the following trends:

  • As healthcare resources are diverted toward COVID-19, other areas are being neglected.  Access to sexual and reproductive health services – including clean and safe deliveries, contraceptives, and pre- and post-natal care – are among the worst casualties.
  • Quarantine measures have trapped many women with their abusers, resulting in a “shadow pandemic” of gender-based violence. The UN estimates that for every three months that lockdown measures continue, an additional 15 million gender-based violence cases could occur.
  • Hunger hotspots are seeing exponentially accelerating food crises, with four countries today bordering on famine: DRC, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.

Looking ahead, Barbara issued three recommendations, on behalf of CARE Canada, to ensure that Canada’s international response delivers the greatest possible impact:

“First, focus on under-served needs. It is critical that we fill gaps in essential, underfunded and diverted services, including sexual and gender based violence and sexual and reproductive health. These areas are under-represented in Global Humanitarian Response Plans, but they are centrepieces of Canada’s humanitarian policy.

Second, reach the hardest-to-reach, without delay.  Donors have directed just 1.5% of their funding toward local and national NGOs. Donors must fulfill their Grand Bargain commitment to channel at least 25% of humanitarian funding to local organizations, particularly women and girls’ organizations

Third, help Canadian humanitarian organizations to do what we do best.  COVID-19 must be the catalyst that moves us towards locally-led, mutually beneficial partnerships. This entails adapting funding mechanisms and direction and control provisions to allow for more predictable, transparent and flexible funding through NGOs and local actors.”

Note to editors:

  • Other invited panelists in the humanitarian aid sector, included:
    • Conrad Sauvé, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Red Cross
    • Joe Belliveau, Executive Director and Jason Nickerson, Humanitarian Affairs Advisor from Doctors Without Borders
  • This panel was directly followed by other notable organizations and representatives, including:
    • Bob Rae, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
    • Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    • David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme
  • The House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development is a permanent committee, focused on subject matters pertaining to: Canadian foreign policy; Canada's humanitarian and development assistance; Canada's relations with other countries and regions, and its response to specific international events or crises; International relations, international development, international security, and international human rights; Global governance, including the role and activities of international and regional organizations.


Maxime Michel, CARE Canada’s Head of Humanitarian and Resilience Programs, who joined Barbara Grantham in today’s committee meeting is available for interviews with the media.

Meg Black | 416-949-0518

About CARE Canada:

Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE develops solutions alongside women and girls in developing countries to lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of poverty and out of crisis. CARE stands with women and girls around the world in economic empowerment. We bring women, girls, and their communities together to challenge inequality while facing issues like food insecurity, climate change, and emergency relief in times of crisis or disaster. CARE works in 100 countries around the world.

To learn more about CARE Canada, visit