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Young people want Canada to do more to help the world's poor and vulnerable: survey

Chances are that some Canadians have been disheartened by recent events both here and in the United States, events that have shown humanity’s darker, less progressive side. But this week, officially designated International Development Week, the light will be shone on Canada’s efforts to promote poverty reduction in the developing world and to support sustainable development globally. The group Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada, which promotes international cooperation and development in a variety of initiatives mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa, celebrates this commitment, but it also says Canada is falling short.

EWB surveyed over 500 Canadians in late January, most of them under the age of twenty-nine years. The results show, says EWB, that younger Canadians “overwhelmingly” believe that Canada should respond to humanitarian and natural disasters, should promote access to health care for women, children and youth, should promote gender equality, and should fight climate change. However, they do not think that the federal government under Justin Trudeau is doing enough. Only 9 per cent believe that Canada has been “very” successful at fighting climate change.

The group explains in a backgrounder that Canada has done quite a lot since 2015—committed $804 million to a fund set up to fight malaria, AIDS and TB; announced $2.6 billion for a green climate fund; welcomed 31,000 Syrian refugees; announced a new commitment to fund women’s reproductive health programs.

Our vision is a world where everyone’s basic needs are met and where everyone can live to their full potential. Our mission is to catalyze changes that address the root causes of poverty and inequity by investing in people and ideas that will contribute to building an equitable and sustainable world.

However, the country still lags other G7 countries, and its levels of international development assistance are lower than they have been under any modern Canadian prime minister, it claims. The group, whose vision is a world in which “everyone’s basic needs are met,” is calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to better reflect Canada’s “progressive Canadian values” and make a stronger commitment to international development in the upcoming federal budget. Canada, it says, must increase its level of international assistance for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable peoples, so that that assistance is both “predictable” and long term.

Source: Engineers Without Borders Canada

Young Canadians want Canada to lead on these issues, EWB says, and they are looking to Justin Trudeau for that leadership. Only 35 per cent of young Canadians who responded to the survey believe the federal government is responsive to their views on international development.

The CEO of EWB Canada, Boris Martin, commented that in these “uncertain” times, it is imperative for Canada to champion international cooperation. The people who form EWB’s “active constituency of young voters” across Canada want Trudeau to “up his ambition” and do more for sustainable development.

The majority (87 per cent) believe that the new US administration will have a negative impact on global development; Canada should increase its investment in international development programs to counter this. The group wants the government to increase its annual international assistance envelope by 10 per cent annually through 2019-20.

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