On March 31st 2015, the Chair of the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (CAPPD) MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan submitted a question to the Order Paper. The question (in full below) requested an update on spending within the context of the Muskoka Initiative on maternal, new born and child health, with a specific focus on family planning and reproductive health care.
The Member of Parliament giving notice of a written question may request an answer within 45 days and may also ask that oral answers be provided to no more than three of his or her questions on the Order Paper.
The Minister of International Development, Honourable Christian Paradis, provided a response on May 25th 2015. Highlights from the Minister’s response include:
- As part of the 2010-15 Muskoka Initiative,
- $17.9 million was disbursed for family planning,
- $85.4 million was for reproductive health.
- The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, DFATD, does not report using the women’s rights organization Development Assistance Committee code since it is too broad.
- The amount of funding that will be directed towards family planning and reproductive health care within the context of the 2015-2020 Muskoka Initiative has yet to be determined
- Canada endorses and remains committed to advance collective action on a diverse range of population and development goals, such as universal access to education and comprehensive reproductive health, including voluntary family planning services, and the reduction of maternal, newborn and child mortality. DFATD supports this through promoting safe pregnancies and maternal health; providing access to family planning services; reducing the burden of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS; preventing child, early and forced marriage; preventing female genital mutilation; and promoting women’s and girls’ rights. Departmental spending in the health sector is based on the priorities identified in the national health plans of recipient countries. Family planning activities are only one component of a broader strategy in maternal, newborn and child health.
- The Government of Canada does not track the amount of funding dedicated to family planning and reproductive health care within specific initiatives, including those related to addressing sexual violence in conflict or child, early and forced marriage
As of January 2015, 2.85 billion of the Muskoka funds had been disbursed. According to this most recent response from the Minister, 17.9 million was spent on family planning, representing 0.69% of the total disbursed under the Muskoka Initiative. 3% of Muskoka funds was spent on reproductive health care. For 2015, the United States of America has appropriated $610 million for family planning and reproductive health programmes.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the “promotion of family planning – and ensuring access to preferred contraceptive methods for women and couples – is essential to securing the well-being and autonomy of women, while supporting the health and development of communities.” Access to a range of sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception is part of the right to health. According to the Guttmacher Institute, “if all women who want to avoid a pregnancy used modern contraceptives and all pregnant women and their newborns received care at the standards recommended by WHO, the benefits would be dramatic.”  Unfortunately, challenges persist. Maternal mortality is the second leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15-19, and every year there are a recorded 290,000 maternal deaths.
Increasing funding for contraceptives so as to meet the current need would cost $9.4 billion. “Achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health services by 2030 is estimated to yield impressive returns of $120 for every dollar spend and over $400 billion in annual benefits.
Question No. 1142: With regard to government spending on women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health as part of its development assistance: (a) As part of the 2010-2015 Muskoka Initiative (the Initiative), how much funding was disbursed specifically (i) for family planning, (ii) for reproductive health, (iii) to women’s rights organizations; (b) what percentage of the recently announced $3.5 billion in new funding for the “Saving Every Woman, Every Child” Initiative 2015-2020 will be directed towards family planning and reproductive health care; (c) how will the government meet its commitment to devote at least 10% of official development assistance to sexual and reproductive health, as agreed to during the 2012 International Parliamentarians Conference on the Implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development; (d) what has been the total amount disbursed specifically for family planning and reproductive health care under the auspices of government spending intended to address sexual violence in conflict-affected areas; and (e) what has been the total amount disbursed specifically for family planning and reproductive health care under the auspices of government spending intended to address child marriage, early marriage, and forced marriage?