A recent decision by the federal government to amalgamate the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and foreign affairs will have little immediate impact on the work of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), says the executive director of MCC Canada.
“MCC will continue doing what it has been called to do – to work with the neglected and forgotten in the world,” said Don Peters.
MCC has had a long relationship with CIDA dating back more than four decades and most recently received $2.8 million from CIDA for MCC’s reconstruction work in Haiti. However, CIDA grants make up a relatively small proportion of MCC’s annual income.
“We are blessed with large numbers of faithful donors and volunteers who support the work and mission of MCC” said Peters. “We simply could not accomplish what we do without their steadfast support.”
MCC will continue to apply for grants from the Canadian government where MCC priorities match the government’s priorities. “We don’t automatically apply for every grant proposal,” said Peters.
Although it’s too soon to know what the amalgamation actually means, MCC Canada is urging the federal government to ensure that the expanded Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development will respond to the needs of the poor in the developing world. There is concern that within the new department Canada’s commercial interests will routinely trump these needs.
MCC Canada has expressed this concern in letters to three government ministers – Julian Fantino (currently responsible for CIDA), Ed Fast (trade minister), and John Baird (foreign affairs).
“We encourage you to ensure that ‘policy coherence’ in the new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development serves to strengthen – rather than temper – Canada’s commitment to the interests of developing countries,” says Peters in the letters.
“Indeed, we hope that “synergies” or “linkages” between Canada’s foreign affairs, trade, and development objectives will privilege – rather than downplay – the needs of the poor.”
Peters said much of the public discussion on the changes has focused on the potential impact on the work of CIDA. In MCC Canada’s letter to ministers Baird and Fast, he points out there is also the potential to enhance Canada’s approach to foreign affairs – that the new department’s work can be enriched by Canada’s experience and expertise in development and humanitarian assistance.
For more information visit: mccottawaoffice.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/why-changes-to-cida-matter-to-mcc