September 5, 2014 – From an outbreak of the Ebola virus to the conflict in Syria to ongoing violence in many African countries, there are significant humanitarian needs around the world. In 2013, more than 140 million people were affected by acute humanitarian crises as a result of natural disasters, conflict or political insecurity around the globe. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, the global refugees exceeded 50 million this year for first time since the Second World War. Children make up more than half of those displaced.
The International Day of Charity emphasizes the importance of charitable efforts – whether by individuals or organizations – in alleviating human suffering and the impact of humanitarian crises. The act of providing charity creates social bonds and contributes to a more inclusive society in Canada and abroad.
Canadians have a reputation for being compassionate and charitable people. It’s a reputation that stems from generous donations and volunteer service during times of humanitarian need or to alleviate poverty. As Minister of International Development, I have the opportunity to see the difference volunteer efforts of Canadian organizations are making in the lives of people around the globe. Canadian volunteers are working in more than 100 countries around the globe to contribute to sustainable development goals. These efforts are complemented by Canada’s response to humanitarian crises, including many of the recent large-scale humanitarian crises where Canada has been one of the first to respond and one of the most generous donors.
Canada has committed $353.5 million to assist Syrians affected by the crisis in their country. With our support in 2014, humanitarian partners have distributed emergency relief items to more than 2.5 million people in Syria, provided food assistance to 3.7 million people in Syria and, reached 25 million children across the region in response to the polio outbreak.
When Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines in 2013 Canadians donated over $85 million to registered eligible Canadian charities. Canadians’ generosity was matched by the Government of Canada which worked through Canadian and multilateral partners to provide food for three million people, shelter for up to 500,000 families and restore livelihoods for up to 2.6 million people working in agriculture and fisheries.
And in January 2010, when a massive earthquake struck Haiti, Canadians generously donated more than $220 million to registered eligible Canadian charities responding to the crisis—an amount that was matched by our Government. Canada has continued to invest in Haiti and has helped in achieving the following results: the distribution of hot meals every day throughout the school year to more than 1.7 million Haitian girls and boys, the provision of free health care to 72,000 pregnant women and 212,000 children under the age of five; and strengthening and improving the Haitian health system for 2.2 million Haitians in four provinces.
Our government values the power of individual Canadians coming together to donate to charitable organizations to improve people’s lives around the world. We work with development and humanitarian partners including Canadian NGOs which provide life-saving assistance to those affected by humanitarian crises, as well as the tools they need to build a better future for their families and their nations. To increase the incentive to Canadians to contribute our government introduced the First-Time Donor’s Super Credit last year. Valid until 2017, this credit will supplement the existing non-refundable tax credit for charitable donations by individuals.
On this day, I want to thank all Canadians for their commitment to charitable giving and to encourage them to continue this important tradition in any way they can, whether it’s donating to a charitable organization or volunteering in their community or overseas.
Minister of International Development and La Francophonie