Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Question No. 150

Mr. Peter Julian:

     With respect to Canada’s humanitarian, reconstruction and foreign aid to the Palestinian people living in the occupied Palestinian territories: (a) what is the current status of the $300 million in foreign aid originally pledged in 2006 and re-pledged March 3, 2009 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt; (b) what progress was made on delivering these funds in the interim period between its original pledge and its re-pledge; (c) what are the delivery mechanisms for this aid and what department is responsible for the file; (d) what are the terms of reference for this file, and what are the timelines for delivery; (e) what proportion of these funds have been earmarked for Gaza and what are the proportions for each (i) reconstruction, (ii) humanitarian aid; (f) given the lack of construction materials within Gaza and the constrained flow of material into Gaza, what provisions have been made to ensure reconstruction; (g) what discussions, if any, have taken place with the Government of Israel to ensure protection of Canada’s investment in Gazan infrastructure; (h) what proportion of the $300 million has been earmarked for the operational budget of the Fatah-led Palestinian National Authority (PA), based in Ramallah, West Bank and what aspects of the PA’s budget will benefit from these funds; (i) given the PA’s inability to operate in Gaza, what operational caveats were placed on those portions of the $300 million earmarked for Gaza to ensure delivery; (j) what is the current status of the $4 million announced by the Government of Canada on January 7, 2009 for humanitarian aid at the height of Israel’s military operation on Gaza, to be divided between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians in the Near East and the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent; (k) what commitments, if any, were made to deliver these funds in a timely manner to the people for whom they were allocated and how did they help alleviate the suffering of civilians under duress as a result of Israel’s bombardment; (l) were these funds delivered (i) if not, why, and what is the current status of the funds, (ii) if so, how, and what were the delivery mechanisms for this aid, the Canadian federal department responsible for the file and the terms of reference for the file; (m) what were, or are expected to be, the concrete outcomes of the funds in terms of medicines, foodstuffs, shelter, water or other material; (n) was the aid delivered, or will it be delivered, through Egypt or Israel; (o) was the aid at any point inhibited by Israel’s restrictions on aid flow during the military operation and, if so, what plans, if any, does the government have to hold public debate on this matter and how will this affect future Canadian aid flow to Gaza; and (p) what other funds have been allocated by the government for Gaza?

Hon. Bev Oda (Minister of International Cooperation, CPC):


    Mr. Speaker, in response to a) The $300 million, five-year pledge was made at the Paris Donors’ Conference in December 2007.


    The Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA, is responsible for the disbursement of $50 million a year over five fiscal years (2008-09 to 2012-13) for a total of $250 million of the $300 million pledge. The funds are being disbursed as part of the building of courthouses as well as the training of judges. Canada’s commitment is conditional on both the pace of Palestinian reform and the progress in the Middle East peace talks. The government of Canada evaluates these conditions in consultation with its allies and other donors.


    In response to b) In fiscal year 2008-09, disbursements from CIDA’s West Bank and Gaza bilateral program, including regional programming, amounted to $51 million.


    In response to c) CIDA, DFAIT and DND are each responsible for their own commitments under the pledge. CIDA uses Canadian partners, international non-governmental organizations, UN agencies and other multilateral organizations.


    In response to d) The terms of reference are set by the announcement of the Government of Canada at the Paris Donor’s Conference. The timeline for delivery is set over the five-year period from 2008-09 through 2012-13.


    In response to e) No set proportions of the $300 million, five-year pledge have been established for humanitarian assistance in Gaza.


    In response to f) CIDA does not intend to finance reconstruction efforts in Gaza.


    In response to g) CIDA has not had discussions with the Government of Israel regarding reconstruction in Gaza as CIDA is not financing reconstruction in Gaza.


    In response to h) CIDA has not set a specific proportion of the $300 million, five-year pledge to be used as budge support for the Palestinian Authority.


    In response to i) CIDA chooses partners such as United Nations Relief Works Agency, UNRWA, that have the capacity to deliver aid in Gaza.


    In response to j) The funds were fully disbursed to UNRWA and the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, in mid-January 2009.


    In response to k) CIDA chooses experienced partners with the capacity to deliver and distribute aid into Gaza. Funding helped provide water, food and hygiene kits, as well as emergency shelter and essential household goods. It also helped provide water where supply had been disrupted. It helped supply repairs to damaged homes, cash assistance for temporary accommodation, medical treatment and fuel to municipalities and utilities to provide public services.


    In response to l) The $4 million in assistance announced on January 7, 2009 was delivered. Grant agreements were the delivery mechanism. The terms of reference of the assistance were set out in the contracts signed with UNRWA and the ICRC. CIDA was the federal department responsible.


    In response to m) The expected outcomes to which CIDA contributed were: basic food packages to 130,000 families, temporary emergency shelter and non-food items for up to 5,000 displaced persons, repair of 5,000 damaged or destroyed shelters, provision of cash assistance to families for temporary accommodation and medical treatment, 500,000 litres of fuel to municipalities and utilities for public services, providing water to communities, emergency rehabilitation of water treatment facilities serving 400,000 people in the WestBank and Gaza, providing food and hygiene kits to cover the needs of up to 3,000 households, providing emergency shelter and essential household equipment to up to 1,000 households, and providing emergency medical care and supplies including 2,000 first aid kits, surgical equipment for 10 hospitals, supplies for and facilitating the movement of ambulances.


    In response to n) The assistance was delivered through Israel.


    In response to o) CIDA has chosen partners such as UNRWA and the ICRC that have the capacity to work in Gaza and deliver projects.


    In response to p) In addition to the funds approved for UNRWA and the ICRC in January 2009, CIDA is supporting projects from a number of trusted partners, including the World Food Program, United Nations Development Program and UNICEF.