Canada’s official development assistance (ODA) to data and statistics has a strong focus on gender equality and reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, in line with its feminist international assistance policy. According to OECD data, more than half of Canada’s ODA for data and statistics aims to strengthen population and health data, especially civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) – often in partnership with multilateral organisations. Canada also supports general statistical capacity building, for instance, through the Project for the Regional Advancement of Statistics in the Caribbean (PRASC).

Since 2010, Canada has played a leadership role in global action to end the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children. Canada’s Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) Initiative was a ten-year (2010-20), CAD 6.5 billion commitment aimed at improving the health of women and children in the world’s most vulnerable regions.1 Canada also disbursed CAD 650 million over a three year period (2017/18 to 2019/20) in new Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) programming in addition to providing CAD 624 million for existing programming over the same period.

The focus and priorities of these two initiatives, MNCH and SRHR, along with Canada’s 2017 Feminist International Assistance Policy are reflected in its ODA to data and statistics, which aims to strengthen the evidence base on gender equality and reproductive, newborn, maternal and child health. According to OECD data, more than half of Canada’s ODA for data and statistics aims to strengthen population data and statistics, especially CRVS which is often seen as critical to monitor maternal and child health. A smaller share goes to general statistical capacity building.

Two Canadian institutions, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the International Development Research Centre, provide funding for data- and statistics-related activities in developing countries. They co-operate closely on data-related support, for instance, in funding the Centre of Excellence for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems, a global resource hub that actively supports national efforts to develop, strengthen and scale up sustainable CRVS systems. In addition, Statistics Canada, Canada’s national statistical office, engages in international co-operation within the statistical community and provides technical assistance in partner countries with major co-operation projects funded by Global Affairs Canada.

According to OECD data and research,2 Canada supported data and statistics in developing countries with disbursements of nearly USD 29 million per year between 2017 and 2019 (Figure 1). Commitments increased significantly in 2014 and 2015 upon renewal of its MNCH commitments (MNCH 2.0) and again in 2017-18 with the commencement of SRHR funding. Sixty-three per cent of its ODA to data and statistics is channelled through multilateral organisations, including UN agencies such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). In addition, Canada has also provided funding for the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21).

A large share of Canada’s support is targeted to regional initiatives, including, for instance, funding of Statistics Canada’s support in the context of the Project for the Advancement of Statistics in the Caribbean. This project aims to improve the statistical capacity of 14 member states of the Caribbean Community between 2015 and 2022. Canada’s ODA is targeted to least developed countries as well as countries classified as fragile.

In 2019, Canada announced that it will raise its funding for women’s and girls’ health around the world – to reach CAD 1.4 billion annually, starting in 2023 over ten years. Investments will support both MNCH and SRHR – with CAD 700 million of the annual investment dedicated to SRHR, as of 2023. It is expected that Canada’s CRVS programming will be maintained as an important aspect of achieving the overarching objectives of women’s and girls’ health, conditional on required internal approvals.

Statistics Canada’s role in co-operation with sister organisations, especially in small island developing states and in regional projects, has generated salient lessons. First, smaller national statistical offices in developing countries often have significant potential to innovate as they tend to lack heavy bureaucratic processes. On the other hand, they can have limited capacity to absorb support because of human resource and technological constraints. Therefore, rather than recreating structures that providers of technical assistance tend to be familiar with, Statistics Canada prioritises activities aligned with partners’ needs and adapts to the local context.

Second, co-ordination among providers is critical. In the context of PRASC, Statistics Canada has worked with all technical assistance providers in the region to ensure they can leverage synergies and avoid duplication. Activities such as regional workshops that address common challenges can foster future collaboration and mutual assistance among participating countries, ensuring that support remains targeted and relevant to the region. Finally, regional programmes should encourage national statistical offices that excel in specific areas to develop further into regional centres of expertise, laying the foundations for future South-South co-operation.

Compared to other DAC members and in line with its international priorities, Canada’s ODA to data and statistics has a strong focus on gender equality and reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (Figure 2). A comparatively large share of its assistance, 50%, aims to strengthen population statistics, especially CRVS.

Canada’s ODA to data and statistics focuses on Africa and the Americas,3 especially the Caribbean (Figure 3 and Figure 4).4 From 2017 to 2019, 43% of Canada’s region-allocable ODA was targeted to Africa and 35% was targeted to the Americas. Close to one-third of Canada’s ODA supported regional initiatives.

Key partner countries are Haiti, Mozambique and the United Republic of Tanzania, which together accounted for 47% of Canada’s total support between 2017 and 2019:

  • In Mozambique, Global Affairs Canadais partnering with the UNFPA for the Evidence for Empowerment (2018-2022) project, which aims to strengthen the capacity of the National Institute for Statistics in Mozambique to improve the availability of reliable and comprehensive, sex-disaggregated population data. Canada also funds a UNICEF project that aims to increase civil and vital registration rates to inform and improve policies and programmes that reduce maternal and child mortality.

  • In Tanzania, GAC works with UNICEF to scale up birth registration using innovative technology.

  • In partnership with the UNFPA, Canada supported Haiti’s 5th General Population and Housing Census as well as a project that aims to digitise Haiti’s land registry.

From 2017 to 2019, 85% of Canada’s country-allocable ODA to data and statistics, 50% of total ODA, benefited low-income countries (LICs) (Figure 5). Its geographic composition has changed significantly since 2010: while middle-income countries (MICs) often accounted for more than half of Canada’s country-allocable ODA to data and statistics between 2010 and 2014, their share had decreased to around 20% by 2019. At the same time, the share of total ODA for data and statistics channelled through regional initiatives, multilateral channels or directly to LICs increased. 89% of Canada’s country-allocable ODA was targeted to fragile contexts in 2019, up from 47% in 2010.

Between 2017 and 2019, 58% of Canada’s ODA to data and statistics was delivered in the form of project-type interventions. Contributions to specific programmes implemented by partners and pooled funding accounted for 26% and experts and other technical assistance for 16%. The share delivered in the form of project-type interventions has increased since 2010, especially after 2014 (Figure 6).

The share of contributions to multilateral organisations in Canada’s total ODA has remained constant in the past years, at about 50% (see Canada’s 2020 Development Co-operation Profile). Yet in terms of its data- and statistics-related ODA, significant investments in CRVS programmes under MNCH 2.0 in 2014 and 2015 resulted in a much larger share of multi-bi aid from 2014 (Figure 7).

Of the 60% of Canada’s ODA to data and statistics channelled through multilateral organisations in 2017-19, roughly 60% was allocated to project-type interventions or experts and other technical assistance. About 40% was disbursed in the form of contributions to specific-purpose programmes managed by implementing partners and pooled funding. Key partners included UNICEF, which accounted for one-third of Canada’s total ODA to data and statistics, the UNFPA (7%) and UN Women (6%).


← 1. As the host of the G8 summit in 2010, Canada launched the Muskoka Initiative on MNCH (MNCH 1.0), committing to spend an additional CAD 1.1 billion over five years for maternal and child heath in low- and middle-income countries. This was on top of maintaining existing programme funding of CAD 1.75 billion over five years, bringing the total MNCH 1.0 investment to CAD 2.85 billion (MNCH baseline plus Muskoka). In 2014, Canada renewed its commitment to MNCH programming with an additional investment of CAD 650 million, for a total of CAD 3.5 billion for 2015-20. This is known as MNCH 2.0, and brought the total MNCH commitment for 2010-20 to CAD 6.35 billion. MNCH 1.0 disbursed over CAD 341 million above the CAD 2.75 billion target and the MNCH 2.0 target was met in 2020.

← 2. The analysis in this profile is based on official data reported by members to the OECD’s Creditor Reporting System. It is published under the responsibility of the OECD. OECD analysts mined the database using a text search with manual curation. Where relevant, members contributed additional data to fill gaps. Please see the methodological annex for further details on the data analysis.

← 3. As part of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada is committed to ensuring that no less than 50% of its bilateral international development assistance is directed to sub-Saharan African countries by 2021-22.

← 4. The Canadian government announced its intention to re-engage with Latin America and the Caribbean and to make the region a top international priority in 2007. An Americas Strategy was developed which focused on three inter-dependent strategic objectives or pillars: 1) increasing economic prosperity; 2) reinforcing democracy; and 3) advancing common security.

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