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Canada—Commitment to Development Index

The Commitment to Development Index ranks 27 of the world’s richest countries on policies that affect people living in poorer nations. This is the country report for Canada. For results of all countries, visit the main CDI page.

Overall

Canada did not change ranks between the 2017 and 2018 CDI publications, remaining in 17th place. It performs strongest on migration and finance but is also above average on aid.
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Aid

Canada ranks above average on the aid component, mainly due to its high score on aid quality, where it ranks fourth. Canada spends 68 percent of its aid bilaterally and 32 percent multilaterally. It scores the best of any CDI country on indicators relating to transparency and learning for its bilateral aid. Canada’s multilateral aid quality score is helped by relatively large contributions to the International Development Association (IDA) and the Global Fund, which score well among multilateral agencies. On aid quantity, however, there is room for improvement: in 2017, Canada provided 0.26 percent of its GNI for development assistance. This is under the average for CDI countries and well below the international commitment of 0.7 percent GNI.
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Finance

Canada ranks sixth on the finance component. Its international investment agreements are exceptional—the best among all the CDI countries. They are designed to take into account the public policy goals of Canada’s investment partners, and they include a sustainable development approach. Canada could follow most CDI countries and strengthen its performance as an open and transparent investor by setting up a national action plan on business and human rights, as recommended by the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises. Canada scores above average on the financial transparency indicator but could raise its score by improving beneficial ownership reporting.
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Technology

As in previous years, Canada’s performance in the technology sector is average. Its current 15th place is mainly due to its relatively low government support for research and development (R&D) and its poor provision of incentives for business R&D. In 2015 (latest available data) the Canadian government provided just 0.46 percent of its GDP to R&D (when discounted for defence spending). It provides relatively high governmental support to R&D in health and industrial production and technology. Canada plays a leading role in the diffusion of technology to developing countries; it has the second-best score of all CDI countries on the intellectual property rights indicator. Especially favourable for developing countries are Canada’s software patent laws and its database protection provisions.
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Environment

Along with trade, environment is one of Canada’s weakest policy fields on the CDI; it ranks 23rd of 27 on this component. Canada’s low score is largely due to its low gasoline taxes; only those of the United States are lower. Canada also produces a substantial amount of fossil fuels and has high greenhouse gas emissions per capita, which it has not managed to reduce as quickly as most other countries. On the other hand, Canada is rewarded for ratifying the Paris agreement and for having the lowest imports of tropical timber among all the CDI countries. Despite notable progress in recent years, Canada could improve its score further by more diligently meeting the reporting requirements of the various biodiversity treaties.
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Trade

Canada ranks low on trade at 17th place. This is despite scoring well on agricultural subsidies: the number of subsidies to domestic farmers is significantly lower in Canada than in other CDI countries—only New Zealand’s, Australia’s, and the Netherlands’ subsidies are lower. Canada’s superior customs procedures and trade infrastructure also help facilitate trade across its borders. However, by imposing relatively high tariffs on poor countries (it has the fourth-highest income weighted tariffs of all the CDI countries), Canada has a negative impact on the trading prospects of developing countries.
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Security

Canada ranks poorly on security at 23rd of 27. Although Canada exports relatively few arms to poor and undemocratic countries, its contributions to international peacekeeping efforts and sea lanes protection are very low relative to the other CDI countries, and it has not ratified the Arms Treaty (of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs).
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Migration

Canada ranks sixth on migration policies. It is rewarded for its open borders to students from developing countries (with the third-best score of all the CDI countries) and migrant-friendly integration policies. It scores above average on the share of asylum seekers it accommodates, with 60 percent of asylum applications receiving a positive decision. Canada can improve on its commitment to international frameworks, however, by ratifying the Convention on the Treatment of Migrant Workers and the Migration for Employment Convention.
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= other countries’ scores