Canada’s humanitarian response to international disasters has drawn mixed marks from the federal auditor general.
In a report released Tuesday, Canada’s Auditor General Michael Ferguson stated that it’s not often clear how the foreign affairs department decides what to spend on the projects. Moreover, while the department is able to respond quickly in times of disaster, its response times can vary significantly.
“Longer response times increase the risk that assistance to affected populations will be delayed, but the Department does not measure the overall timeliness of its own processes,” concluded Ferguson.
Ferguson wrote that the international community is routinely called upon “to save lives, alleviate suffering, and protect human dignity” in times of crisis. “Millions of people around the world affected by humanitarian crises rely on assistance from the international community, including Canada, when their governments lack the capacity or will to respond.”
He said the department should “reflect” on the delays already experienced to help mitigate “risks” for future spending and “help ensure short-term objectives are achievable.”
He wrote that the Canadian government has spent an average of $567 million annually over the past five years on aid, and that humanitarian need always exceeds resources. “It is therefore important that limited resources be allocated in a timely manner to where they are needed most, and that there is accountability for how they are used.”