Like many other developed countries with stable economies, Canada practices humanitarian aid programs within the scope of its international policies to assist developing states. It has been inherent in the Canadian humanitarian assistance policies that the level of poverty in African countries should be reduced through the support of local governments. However, current Canadian policies of humanitarian assistance are characterized by the integration of both the interests of the developing countries seeking humanitarian aid and the Canadian economic gains. In such a manner, Canada now invests in the private sector of the mining industry to boost extraction in Africa, thus helping the local private sector grow and enrich local governments through taxes. The opponents of such measures claim that Canada merely uses humanitarian budgets to gain profit through non-sustainable industries, calling these policies “the explicit recommercialization of aid” (Brown, 2016, p. 273). However, the government should continue its policies since they comprise the only effective way of assisting African countries in their economic development. This paper will overview both opinions in the argument and will validate the reasons why the government should continue its developmental aid policies.
The Reasons why Canadian Government Should Continue its Policies
When validating the prioritization of the current government policy of humanitarian assistance over the changes, one should appeal to rational reasons that would demonstrate the relevance of such an argument. The scope of advantages obtained through the continuation of the currently implemented policies includes private sector development and poverty level reduction in African countries. In addition, they imply benefits for Canada, and the achievement of long-term economic gains for the African community through reinforcing corporate social responsibility. The discussion of each of these reasons is presented in the consecutive sections of the paper.
Private Sector Development
In the context of complex economic circumstances at both internal and global levels, the allocation of budget for international policies is an essential and often controversial issue. In Canada, the long-term dedication to the investment of finances into the field of humanitarian assistance provided to African countries to reduce poverty has been characterized by slow changes. Indeed, according to McAllister (2016), the level of poverty decreased at a slow pace with no significant improvements in the budget-forming industries. In such a manner, the allocation of funds to humanitarian assistance has become risky for Canada’s long-term economic situation and required change. The shift in policies was validated by the need to boost the private sector in the developing countries to ensure tax revenue flow since “the tax-generating private sectors in many African countries remain relatively small” (McAllister, 2016, p. 1). In such a manner, the only reasonable and attainable solution to gaining economic independence for African countries is through helping them advance their private sector in the industries that are potentially profitable, namely resource extraction.
Positive Implications of Canadian Humanitarian Aid for the Level of Poverty in Africa
Consistent with the benefits for the private sector, the consideration of long-term poverty reduction at a socio-economic level is also a significant argument in favor of Canada’s continued humanitarian assistance through current policies. Indeed, there are visible improvements achieved by African states as the result of Canadian humanitarian program implementation. In particular, as literature on the topic indicates, “according to the World Bank’s 2016 report, Poverty in a Rising Africa, the share of Africans who are poor fell from 57 percent in 1990 to 43 percent in 2012” (McAllister, 2016, p. 1). These statistical data demonstrate that the chosen direction of policies is effective and is capable of producing better results if maintained.
Benefits for Canada
Another significant validation of the chosen policy direction is the opportunities for Canada to gain in terms of economic assets, developmental opportunities, and reputational benefits. Indeed, through the 2011 announcement of the Canadian International Development Agency’s direction at private sector funding within humanitarian aid programs, the government explicitly addressed the pursuit of Canadian interests. In particular, the “government’s use of aid funds to support the mining sector was impelled primarily by a top-down desire to rehabilitate the image of the Canadian mining sector and increase its investment opportunities ” (Brown, 2016, p. 274). This solution was validated by a rationale for allocating funds to the mining industry as the only profit-generating sector for African countries and by the source of benefits for Canadian private companies. Through such measures, Canada can now obtain long-term relief for itself by promoting local countries’ independent functioning. It focuses on “strengthening the capacity of host administrations at all levels […] to support infrastructure development, promote skills development and manage the increased flow of tax revenue” (McAllister, 2016, p. 5). Thus, the completion of the program would be beneficial for Canada in short- and long-term perspectives.
Opponents’ Perspective on Recommercialization of Humanitarian Aid
However, despite the presented positive outcomes for both Canada and the communities obtaining humanitarian assistance, the critics of governmental policies claim that such a route will lead to environmental damage and breach of governmental principles. The opponents of the opinion that the Canadian government should pursue its policy in directing its resources and investment in African countries claim that there are significant risks. In particular, researchers claim that “most African countries are viewed as relatively high risk because of political instability, regulatory incertitude, infrastructure weaknesses, and shortages of skilled labor” (McAllister, 2016, p. 1). Moreover, Brown (2016) states that the investment in mining is inefficient, non-sustainable, and is not in line with the values of the Canadian government of prioritizing environmental and human rights. Thus, the opponents claim that the allocation of funds to Canadian private mining companies is a way of commercialization of humanitarian budgets, which is damaging for the countries’ reputation and African communities endurance.
Solidifying Corporate Social Responsibility
Regarding the claims of the opposing side of the argument, it is relevant to appeal to the measures used by the Canadian government within its chosen policies. The practices of program implementation are designed to minimize harm to the development of the resource extraction industry and ensure the pursuit of humanitarian assistance goals. Indeed, as stated by McAllister (2016), the principles of corporate social responsibility are essential to the Canadian program of humanitarian assistance since they allow for addressing the risks and mitigating them through proactive measures. The use of guidelines and recommendations for all parties involved in the program are essential in maintaining beneficial outcomes of the policy implementation.
The efforts of African governments, the Canadian government, and private companies involved in the program are addressed in the humanitarian assistance policy. Firstly, to ensure consistent economic and environmental advantages, African governments can engage the “affected communities and sensitize them to the impacts and benefits of foreign investment in exploration and mining” (McAllister, 2016, p. 2). They can also design taxation frameworks to gain consistent economic revenues, as well as ensure control and transparency in regulating the performance of the mining companies to eliminate the risk of foreign investor dominance (McAllister, 2016). Secondly, the Canadian government can support and promote core values of corporate social responsibility and engage the international community in helping and supporting African governments in their economic growth. Thirdly, companies can “commit to high standards in health and safety, environmental protection, human rights and community relations, and audit performance systematically through qualified third parties” (McAllister, 2016, p. 4). Moreover, the private sector should engage in culturally relevant practices and training of personnel to ensure consistent and transparent advancement with the prioritization of benefits for local communities and governments.
To summarize the discussion, the analysis of the views presented by proponents and opponents of the Canadian policies shows that the government is capable of maintaining its economic stability while assisting developing countries. The gains in this regard demonstrate that it is relevant to invest in the advancement of the local private sector in Africa in general and develop the resource extraction industry in particular. In such a manner, African countries will gain an opportunity to generate profit independently in a long-term perspective. Moreover, Canada will gain a chance to ensure its economic sustainability through the boosting of its private companies. Finally, the improvement and thorough application of the corporate social responsibility policies will ensure the minimization of harm and balancing economic and social gains for all parties involved. Thus, it is important for the Canadian government to continue its policies of humanitarian assistance through engaging the private sector and seeking Canadian prosperity.
Brown, S. (2016). Undermining foreign aid: The extractive sector and the commercialization of Canadian development assistance. In S. Brown, M. den Heyer, & D. R. Black (Eds.), Rethinking Canadian Aid (pp. 273-294). University of Ottawa Press.
McAllister, A. (2016). Can Canadian mining companies make a difference in Africa? Canadian Global Affairs Institute.