Canada’s development co-operation seeks to eradicate poverty and build a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous world. It believes that promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls is the most effective approach to achieving this goal. It has also committed to direct no less than 50% of its bilateral development assistance to sub-Saharan Africa by 2021-22. In 2021, Canada’s total official development assistance (ODA) increased to USD 6.3 billion (preliminary data), representing 0.32% of gross national income (GNI). ODA increases exceeded COVID-19 vaccine donations.

Find the methodological notes behind the profile here.

Guided by its Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada’s six priority action areas are: 1) gender equality, which is critical to achieving the others; 2) human dignity (health and nutrition, education, gender-responsive humanitarian action); 3) growth that works for everyone; 4) environment and climate action; 5) inclusive governance; and 6) peace and security. Canada recognises that in addition to addressing multidimensional poverty, gender inequality intersects with other dimensions of exclusion, discrimination and marginalisation. Canada’s ODA Accountability Act requires ODA to focus on poverty reduction in a manner consistent with Canadian values and aid Effectiveness Principles.

A planned Multilateral Development Strategy will provide a framework for Canada’s engagement with multilateral partners. It will define objectives and actions intended to balance Canadian commitments and priorities with multilateral effectiveness and accountability. Canada forms partnerships to advance global goods and promote global solutions, and prioritises improving the quality and quantity of sustainable development finance for the poorest and most vulnerable.

The 2021 OECD-DAC mid-term review found that the Feminist International Assistance Policy provides clear direction to Canada and its partners. In response to 2018 DAC Peer Review recommendations, Canada has increased financial delegations, broadened engagement with civil society organisations (CSOs) and is addressing remaining amalgamation challenges. The review encouraged Canada to articulate its views on a modern understanding of development effectiveness, contribute to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) discussion on effective multilateral engagement, be more systematic in analysing domestic policies with spillover effects on developing countries, streamline application processes and reporting, and continue to increase ODA to 2030. Learn more about Canada’s 2021 mid-term review.

Canada provided USD 6.3 billion (preliminary data) of ODA in 2021,1 representing 0.32% of GNI. This was an increase of 8.0% in real terms in volume and an increase in share of GNI from 2020. Canada’s ODA volume and its share of GNI have risen since 2014. While the government has no specific plan to move towards the United Nations target of 0.7% ODA/GNI, the Minister of International Development is tasked with increasing Canada’s international development assistance every year towards 2030 to realise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Within Canada’s ODA portfolio in 2020, 93.1% was provided in the form of grants and 6.9% in the form of non-grants.2

In 2021, Canada ranked 6th in terms of ODA volume and 13th among DAC countries when ODA is taken as a share of GNI. Canada screens virtually all activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker and committed 82.4% of its bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Among DAC countries in 2020, Canada had one of the highest shares of ODA allocated to refugees and asylum seekers in the donor country (12.4%).

Canada is committed to several international targets and Development Assistance Committee standards and recommendations. Learn more about DAC recommendations.

Canada provided a higher share of its ODA bilaterally in 2020. Gross bilateral ODA was 77.2% of total ODA. Thirty-seven per cent of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Canada allocated 22.8% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2020, Canada provided USD 321.3 million of gross bilateral ODA for the COVID-19 response, representing 8.2% of its total gross bilateral ODA. Three per cent of total gross bilateral ODA was provided as health expenditures within the COVID-19 response.

In 2020, Canada provided USD 2.6 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, a similar level as in 2019. Of this, USD 1.2 billion was core multilateral ODA, while non-core contributions were earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 32.0% of Canada’s non-core contributions and 68.0% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Seventy-one per cent of Canada’s total contributions to multilateral organisations in 2020 was allocated to UN system and the World Bank Group.

The UN system received 46.7% of Canada’s gross ODA to the multilateral system, mainly through earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 1.2 billion to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Canada’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the WFP (USD 210.4 million), the UNDP (USD 156.3 million) and UNICEF (USD 150.7 million).

See the section on Geographic and sectoral focus of ODA for the breakdown of bilateral allocations, including ODA earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2020, Canada’s bilateral spending increased compared to the previous year. It provided USD 3.9 billion of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented an increase of 21.0% in real terms from 2019. In 2020, Canada focused most of its bilateral ODA on addressing the health and well-being, poverty eradication and reduced inequality goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

In 2020, country programmable aid decreased to 23.1% of Canada’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49.7%. In-donor refugee costs were USD 630.8 million in 2020, an increase of 32.9% in real terms over 2019, and represented 12.4% of Canada’s total gross ODA.

Canada disbursed USD 16.2 million for triangular co-operation in 2020 and is developing a policy to guide its approach. Its regional priority is Africa, with a focus on population programmes. Learn more about specific projects at the OECD’s voluntary triangular co-operation project repository and more broadly.

In 2020, Canada channelled bilateral ODA mainly through multilateral organisations, as earmarked funding, the public sector and non-governmental organisations. Technical co-operation made up 14.8% of gross ODA in 2020.

In 2020, CSOs received USD 1.1 billion of gross bilateral ODA. Seven per cent of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 21.3% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2019 to 2020, the combined core and earmarked contributions for CSOs increased as a share of bilateral ODA from 27.3% to 27.8%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs, civil society engagement in development co-operation and the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid.

In 2020, Canada’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa. USD 1.3 billion was allocated to Africa, accounting for 34.4% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 629.3 million was allocated to Asia (16.1% of gross bilateral ODA) and USD 566.0 million to the Americas (14.4% ). Canada committed to direct no less than 50% of its bilateral development assistance to sub-Saharan Africa by 2021-22. According to Canada’s calculations it had reached 47% in 2020-21, an increase from 42% in 2019-2020. Disbursements unallocated by income group have risen steadily since 2015 reaching 55.8% in 2020 (USD 2.2 billion). Asia (13.7%) and Africa were also the main regional recipients of Canada’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2020, 18.4% of gross bilateral ODA went to Canada’s top 10 recipients, nine of which are fragile contexts. In addition, Lebanon hosts a sizeable refugee population. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 55.8%, mainly due to expenditure for in-donor refugees (28.8%) and core contributions to CSOs (11.8%).

In 2020, least developed countries (LDCs) received 24.3% of Canada’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 950.5 million). This is in line with the DAC country average of 24.4%. The share of gross bilateral ODA to the LDCs and lower middle-income countries has fallen from 58.1% in 2015 to 37.3% in 2020. Within the 55.8% of bilateral ODA that was unallocated by income group, Canada estimates that between 43% and 47% of total gross bilateral ODA benefitted LDCs, when including regional funding. Canada’s share of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states (SIDS) decreased to 2.0% in 2020, amounting to USD 77.7 million.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 1.2 billion in 2020, representing 31.2% of Canada’s gross bilateral ODA. Twenty-nine per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance, decreasing from 32.6% in 2019, while 16.4% was allocated to peace, an increase from 13.7% in 2019. Four per cent went to conflict prevention, a subset of contributions to peace, representing a slight increase from 3.7% in 2019.

Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

In 2020, social infrastructure and services was the largest focus of Canada’s bilateral ODA. Investments in this area accounted for 43.2% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 1.4 billion), with a strong focus on health and population policies (USD 938.8 million), and government and civil society (USD 369.3 million). ODA for economic infrastructure and services totalled USD 252.6 million, with a focus on energy (USD 215.4 million). Bilateral humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 467.9 million (13.8% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations also focused primarily on social infrastructure and services (54.8%) and humanitarian assistance (17.9%) in 2020.

In 2020, Canada committed USD 8.8 million of bilateral ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.3% of its bilateral allocable aid. Canada also committed USD 421.7 million (16.3% of its bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2020.

In 2020, Canada committed 82.4% of its screened bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (down from 91.7% in 2019),3 compared with the 2020 DAC country average of 44.6%. This is equal to USD 2.1 billion of bilateral ODA in support of gender equality. The share of screened bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 15%, compared with the 2020 DAC country average of 4.8%. A similarly high share of interventions on social infrastructure and services addresses gender equality as those on economic infrastructure. Canada screens all activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker (100% in 2020). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality, the DAC Network on Gender Equality and the DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation in Development Co-operation.

In 2020, Canada committed 24.4% of its total bilateral allocable aid (USD 630.7 million) in support of the environment and the Rio Conventions (the DAC country average was 38.8%), down from 28.3% in 2019. Seventeen per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid in 2020 focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC country average of 10.8%. Eighteen per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 459.2 million) focused on climate change overall, down from 15.8% in 2019 (the DAC country average was 34%). Canada had a greater focus on mitigation (14.5%) than on adaptation (5.8%) in 2020. Learn more about climate-related development finance and the DAC Declaration on Aligning Development Co-operation with the Goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The OECD initiative Sustainable Oceans for All shows that Canada committed USD 13.5 million in support of the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean in 2020, 66.2% less than in 2019. The 2020 value is equivalent to 0.5% of Canada’s bilateral allocable aid. Learn more about development co-operation in support of a sustainable ocean economy and the data platform on development finance for a sustainable ocean economy.

Canada provides resource flows to developing countries beyond ODA and makes use of leveraging instruments to mobilise private finance for development.

Canada uses its ODA to mobilise private finance for development. In 2020, Global Affairs Canada and FinDev Canada mobilised USD 130.4 million from the private sector through direct investment in companies and special purpose vehicles, syndicated loans, shares in collective investment vehicles, and simple co-financing.

A share of 83% targeted middle-income countries and 1% the LDCs in 2020, noting that 16% was unallocated by income. Furthermore, USD 11.9 million was mobilised for SIDS.

Private finance mobilised by Canada in 2020 related mainly to activities in the energy (65%); industry, mining and construction (25%); and banking and financial services (10%) sectors. Moreover, 93% of Canada’s total private finance mobilised was for climate change mitigation and/or adaptation.

Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

Global Affairs Canada leads Canada’s development co-operation efforts. It provides bilateral ODA, institutional support to multilateral organisations, humanitarian assistance, and support for security and stabilisation in fragile and conflict-affected countries. It created a dedicated rotational international assistance stream within the foreign service and its professional learning programme includes international assistance modules. Finance Canada manages Canada’s relationship with the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and multilateral and bilateral debt relief. The International Development Research Centre invests in knowledge, innovation and solutions to improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the provinces and territories support refugees arriving in Canada. An additional 16 federal departments support development co-operation.

Important mechanisms for consulting stakeholders are thematic working groups, such as on aid effectiveness or the civil society policy. CSOs active in development co-operation, humanitarian assistance and global citizenship education co-ordinate through the umbrella body Cooperation Canada.

Internal systems and processes help ensure the effective delivery of Canada’s development co-operation. Select features are shown in Features of Canada’s systems for quality and oversight.

Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

2021 OECD-DAC mid-term review of Canada:

2018 OECD-DAC peer review of Canada:

Global Affairs Canada (2021), Departmental Results Report, 2020-2021:

Government of Canada: Global issues and international assistance:

Government of Canada (2008), Official Development Assistance Accountability Act, S.C. 2008, c. 17.:

Government of Canada: Statistical Report on International Assistance, Fiscal Year 2020-2021:

Government of Canada: Report to Parliament on the Government of Canada’s international assistance 2020-2021:

International Development Research Centre:

CSO umbrella organisation Cooperation Canada:

Canada’s practices on the Development Co-operation TIPs Tools Insights Practices learning platform:

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 1960.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.


← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

← 3. The use of the recommended minimum criteria for the marker by some members in recent years can result in lower levels of aid reported as being focused on gender equality.

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