Canada and the Philippines: Aid in the Midst of the Typhoon

A devastating typhoon hit the Philippines on Friday, leaving an estimated 10,000 dead on the Leyte Island alone. Countries from around the world are coming together to bring funds and aid to the area. As of November 19th, Canada was the fourth largest donor following the US, the UK, and Australia.

 Canada is definitely gaining a presence on the world stage. Since the 2008 recession, it has experienced one of the healthiest recoveries in the developed world. It has also exhibited itself on the world radar during the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver. As Canada’s role as a welcoming country with a strong economy grows, it is clear that it will be expected for it to assist in international development and disaster relief.

However, there is a trade-off to be expected from international recognition. More and more Canadian tax dollars may be awarded to foreign locations where they will not have a direct benefit on Canadians. Of course, the indirect benefit is: by assisting other countries to recover from disasters, the world will be a healthier place for everyone to live in, including Canadians. Developing countries will become more economically stable, and become able to trade with other countries, and experience decreased poverty levels. As well, it will make certain locations in the world safer tourism destinations. The main question is where to find the sweet spot, the balance between helping to develop and assist other countries after natural disasters and using Canadian’s tax dollars to improve issues in Canada like unemployment, labour gaps and high levels of poverty among Native populations.


Canada’s strong relationship with the Philippines

Ottawa believes there are approximately 535,000 Filipinos living in Canada in communities across the country.  Many other groups estimate that the number is much higher. However, it is clear that Filipinos are the fastest growing ethnic community in the country. In 2012, the Philippines was Canada’s largest source for immigrants according to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, beating China and India for the number one spot.

The Filipino population has also been one of the most successful groups to integrate into life in Canada. After working in Canada for a certain period of time, these temporary workers can apply for permanent residence and start on their path to becoming contributing Canadian citizens. They have greatly benefit from multiple immigration programs as wither live-in care givers, low skilled workers, or skilled workers in a myriad of economic sectors. Unlike other ethnic groups of immigrants settling in Canada, the Filipino population has been growing under the radar. Many new immigrants immediately settle in large urban areas and in such concentrations that their presence is more noticeable. On the other hand, the Filipino population tends to settle in smaller communities across Canada.


Does Canada feel pressured to respond?

Canada is a very multicultural society and boasts a population that is rooted historically and presently in immigration. As a result, there are many Canadian citizens with dual citizenship. Therefore, when a disaster occurs in an area abroad where many Canadian citizens are residing, the Canadian government makes efforts to help them. 

Responding to this demographic pressure, the Canadian government originally pledged 5 million dollars to supply aid to the Philippines. Individual Canadians and Canadian businesses also raised and donated $20 million dollars to charities that are aiding devastated areas from the typhoon.  On November 18th the Canadian government matched donations from individual Canadians and added $15 million dollars of funds. Total funds coming from Canada have now reached $40 million dollars and could increase 

Relations between Canada and the Philippines are very strong. especially after the recent visit of the Canadian Prime Minister to the country last year. However, are these healthy relations adding pressure to the Canadian government to supply too many funds to relieve the Philippines after this disaster? Many Canadians have expressed concern over the amount of money the government is supplying to foreign aid in this situation. However, when we compare to the amount of funds Canadians and the Canadian government has donated to past disasters, for example to Haiti in 2010, we can see that the levels of relief funding in this situation are very similar. Therefore, the high levels of donations in this situation may not only be a result of the strong relationship between Canada and the Philippines, might also more from how much individual Canadians and Canadian businesses want to assist in relief efforts and the Canadians government’s pledges to match these donations.


Will the money make it down to people who need it?

Many organizations were initially created in order to do acts of good and to help the world. Unfortunately, even from these initial good intentions, many organizations have become bureaucratic nightmares. Many donated funds go towards salaries, advertising and travel expenses before they can finally trickle down to the individuals who really need assistance. It is important to note that is not the case with every association, but we do encourage everyone to research well every organization before donating any money.

The following is a breakdown of how the Canadian government has allocated money for the relief effort in the Philippines:

  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRD): $2 million
  • United Nations World Food Programme (WFP): $4 million
  • United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF): $3 million
  • World Health Organization (WHO): $800,000
  • United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): $200,000
  • CARE Canada: $1 million
  • Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada: $1 million
  • Oxfam Canada: $1.5 million
  • Plan Canada: $1.5 million
  • Save the Children Canada: $1 million
  • World Vision Canada: $2 million


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