Canada Willing To Spend $1B On G8 Maternal, Child Health Initiative

Canada has told other G8 countries that it “is willing to put about $1 billion toward maternal and child health – as long as other countries ante up, too,” the Canadian Press/Winnipeg Free Press reports.

Canada’s pledge “will likely target poor countries with the worst records of maternal and child mortality and malnutrition,” according to the news service (Scoffield, 5/30).

The Toronto Star on Friday reported on several suggestions of how Canada could better “spend the nearly $1 billion earmarked for security for the G8 and G20 summits next month.” According to the newspaper, the $1-billion figure is “quickly emerging as an important benchmark, with [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper under increasing pressure to emerge from those summits with spending commitments over and above his security costs – dollars directed toward the less fortunate abroad, for instance” (Delacourt, 5/28). “New figures show the final bill for the three days of meetings could easily top $1.2 billion,” according to the Canadian Press/Winnipeg Free Press.

UNICEF said Canada should commit $2 billion to make a significant impact on global maternal health, but others say the $1 billion allotment is “generous enough to persuade other G8 countries that Canada is serious about its maternal health initiative,” the news service writes (5/30). The Toronto Star notes that $1 billion is a “massive increase” over a current aid commitment of $500-million, which is Canada’s biggest pledge ever, according to International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda (5/28).

In related news, Reuters examines the draft of the upcoming G8 summit. “The five-page draft for the June 25-26 summit in Canada, dated March 12, said the ‘greatest economic crisis in generations’ had ‘jeopardized our ability to meet the 2015 targets’ for aiding developing nations set in 2000,” the news service writes, noting that it was unclear whether the agenda had changed, especially in light of “recent shockwaves from a debt crisis in Greece” (Doyle, 5/31).

A Reuters factbox includes language from the draft, which notes the G8’s intent to focus on the maternal and child health Millennium Development Goals (5/31).

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