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Canada’s Foreign Aid

The dashboard below provides data and analysis on Canada’s international assistance.

International Assistance Spending

Canada’s international assistance spending totalled CAD$5.4 billion in 2016, down from CAD$5.8 billion in 2015.

International assistance spending equates to about CAD$150 per Canadian in 2015 – down from CAD$163 per Canadian in 2015 and CAD$139 per Canadian in 2014.

International assistance accounts for approx. 1.7% of the 2016 federal budget spending – down from 2% of budget expenditure in 2015.

Foreign aid or ODA accounts for 0.26% of Canada’s gross national income (GNI) in 2016 – down from 0.28% in 2015.

Who are the largest recipients?

The largest recipient in 2016 was Ethiopia, overtaking the Ukraine and Afghanistan. Total assistance to Ethiopia was CAD$190 million, a decrease of approximately CAD$3 million from 2015.

Others among the top 5 are: Afghanistan – CAD$159 million; Ghana – CAD$136 million; Tanzania – CAD$130 million; Mali – CAD$125 million; and Bangladesh – CAD$123 million.

Where were the sharpest increases and declines?

The largest decrease, by far, but due to exceptional circumstances, was in the case of Ukraine. From 2014 to 2015, Ukraine experienced a 10-fold increase of total assistance due to two substantial ODA loans from Finance Canada, totalling CAD$511 million. By 2016, that number rapidly decreased to CAD $81.9 million.

Among the other major recipients, Canadian assistance increased in: Ghana, Senegal, Haiti, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. While Canadian assistance declined in: Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Mali, Bangladesh, India, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

Income Groups and Regions

33.2% of aid went to Least Developed (or poorest) Countries, another 2.2% went to other Low Income Countries, and 19.6% went to Lower Middle

Income countries (36.1% is not coded by income group).
Africa received the highest share at 38.9%, followed by Asia (28.9%), and the Americas (13%) and Europe (3.5%).

The share of Europe reverted back to its usual state after increasing substantially in 2015, due to exceptional loans to Ukraine. The share of the Americas has continued its decline since 2012, however it experienced a jump of approximately 3% in 2016. The other regions are relatively unchanged, and Africa remains the most important by far.

Key Exceptions and Caveats

2016 figures compared to 2015 indicate a substantial decrease, as discussed above. However the reasons for these, as also discussed, are loans to Ukraine which were an exception, and also a one-time double payment to World Bank IDA. Excluding these – which can be done above by deselecting from the “Source (initiative specific)” option above, as here – provides a different picture. Overall assistance experienced a minor increase (CAD$4.55bn in 2015 vs. CAD$4.81bn in 2016).

Departmental and Government channels

The amalgamation of the former aid agency CIDA into foreign affairs, and more recent re-branding as Global Affairs Canada (GAC), continues to complicate the departmental sources and channels picture. Typically about 65% to 75% of aid was channeled through (former) CIDA.

Most of this has now transitioned to GAC consolidated. Which means it is not possible to easily distinguish (former) CIDA from (former) DFAIT assistance.

The more relevant distinction is whether the financing is from the international assistance envelope (IAE) or non-IAE. The IAE accounts for the vast majority, 86%, or CAD$4.6 billion in 2016. Non-IAE channels are 14% (or CAD$756 million) and comprise items such as the cost of settling refugees.

The three major channels are GAC (58.5%), Finance (9%)), and former CIDA sun-setting or in transition (14.3%).

Using the Data

Hover over country circles on the map to see how much went to which countries. Circles are sized to reflect the amount of Canadian aid the country receives (in the selected year, by default most recent).

Clicking on a country will reveal links that can be clicked for more details. Doing so will switch the view to the details table, where further selections can be made.

Use drop-downs to limit the data by “region”, “income level” or change “year”; by “bilateral vs. multilateral”, “departmental sources, or specific initiatives (where relevant)”.

Multiple countries can be selected at one time for comparison (no more than two at a time are recommended). Hold down Control + right clikc. Click again to deselect. Refresh browser or click “Reset” at the bottom of the dashboard to reset the view. At any point, to go back, click “Undo” at the bottom of the dashboard.


Data is sourced from CIDA Statistical Report on International Assistance. OECD-DAC country, regional and income classification coding is applied. MS Excel version of the data can be downloaded below.

Data is reported on “gross” basis (i.e. loan repayments, which entail negative transactions, are excluded). In order to simplify interpretation calendar years are used, but the data is on a fiscal year basis (i.e. 2001 is 2000-01 and so on).

There may be slight differences between this data and data from the OECD-DAC. This is for two reasons: fiscal year (as opposed to calendar year) is used here, and Canadian dollar (as opposed to US dollar) is the currency unit.

Note: this data was last updated in May 2016. Data can be freely extracted from the above dashboard using the “download” options.

Updated raw data are provided below, in detail, by country/region/income group/source/channel, on gross basis, in CAD$, on fiscal year basis.

Aid (2016) web-version (MS Excel)

For more information please contact: aniket.bhusan@carleton.ca

Related resources


This data is part of ongoing research at the Canadian International Development Platform. Comment here, or using the contact form.

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