MP Lois Brown congratulates Newmarket-Aurora's Olympic athletes!March 06, 2014,
Speech by PS Lois Brown at the Aga Khan Foundation Canada: Education at the MarginsFebruary 27, 2014,
Address by Lois Brown, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development
Education at the Margins: Reaching Children in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States
Co-hosted by Aga Khan Foundation Canada and Global Partnerships in Education
February 27, 2014
Thank you Khalil. Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman.
I’m pleased to join you today on behalf of Minister Paradis, who sends his regrets for not being here. I would also like to recognize Diane Jacovella, Assistant Deputy Minister for Global Issues and Development, who will be moderating today’s panel.
And a special thanks to Aga Khan Foundation Canada and the Global Partnership for Education—two of our biggest partners in education, for co-hosting this event with us.
Developing countries have made significant progress toward achieving universal primary education. However, fragile states affected by conflict lag far behind other countries, and their children are paying the price.
Securing the future of children and youth is one of Canada’s development priorities. We see education as a way to foster peace and security, and to help stimulate economic growth and reduce poverty.
Nowhere is that more true or more crucial than it is in fragile states. Education for children is a basic building block that we cannot afford to ignore.
Canada has a long-standing commitment to the Millennium Development goal to ensure that, by 2015, boys and girls alike will be able to complete their primary schooling. Our development programs have a particular focus on supporting access to quality basic education, and safe and secure schools.
We also want to ensure that children and youth who are living in emergency situations because of disasters and conflicts have access to the services they need—including education.
That is why Canada supports education in fragile states through the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies, which is the lead international network in this field.
This network brings together key stakeholders to help countries transition from humanitarian assistance to development aid in the education field, among other goals.
It also allows long-term partners to compare their experiences, find new ways to work together and learn from each other’s innovative, best practices.
Earlier today, our Parliament had the honour to be addressed by His Highness the Aga Khan. Prime Minister Harper and His Highness signed a Protocol of Understanding committing both to regular, high-level consultations on a range of global and regional issues.
The Protocol further consolidates the cooperative relationship we have, also through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and Aga Khan Foundation Canada.
We are very excited about the potential this holds for a variety of global issues—including the promise it holds for better learning outcomes for children and youth.
Of course, we already have a number of educational projects we are collaborating on in other countries. In Afghanistan, for example, our girls’ education program covers the full continuum of education from early childhood development programs to supporting women in teacher training colleges.
Canada has been among the top donors to Afghanistan, and education remains one of Canada’s largest sectors of investment in the country. It accounts for 25 percent of our development budget there.
And our efforts there have paid dividends. Our education investments have led to a dramatic increase in the number of girls enrolled in schools across the country.
In 2001, less than a million children were enrolled in formal schools—and all of them were boys.
By 2013, 9.7 million children were enrolled in schools—and 40 percent were girls!
Looking at today’s topic of Education at the Margins—reaching children in fragile and conflict-affected states—it is clear to me that our success is based on working with experienced and knowledgeable partners like those who are present here.
Canada is also proud to be partners with the Global Partnership for Education, which works in 28 developing fragile states.
The Global Partnership helps to develop interim education plans in fragile states. This is a key step to offering children who are the most difficult to reach the opportunity to learn and develop.
Working through local partners, the Global Partnership is having a transformative effect on the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which recently developed the first interim education plan in more than a generation.
The Global Partnership is also helping to accelerate education funding to countries considered extremely fragile, such as Somalia and the Central African Republic, where its grants support teachers, children and school councils.
Canada has learned from progress in the G8 Muskoka Initiative for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health which is our government’s top development priority. We are effective when global will gets behind an idea—in this case, to save the lives of women and children and improve their health.
And now, we have an opportunity to focus attention around the refugee and displaced children of Syria.
On January 7, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the UN Refugee Agency, Save the Children, World Vision and other NGO partners launched the “No Lost Generation” initiative. It calls for governments, aid agencies, and the general public to champion the children of Syria.
Since conflict erupted in Syria in March 2011, an estimated 140,000 people have been killed, and more than eight million people have been driven from their homes—half of them children.
I am very moved by the goal of this initiative: to provide Syrian children—wherever they are—with the protective environment and learning opportunities they need to be able to reclaim their childhoods. The vast majority—one million children—live in the surrounding countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq. Nearly 8,000 of them are separated from their immediate families.
And the situation is even direr more than three million displaced children living inside Syria.
On January 24th, the Prime Minister announced an additional $50 million in humanitarian funding for education and child protection activities that support the “No Lost Generation” initiative.
We expect that through our partners we will be able to restore hope for 660,000 children by protecting them and giving them an education.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development is working closely with UNICEF and NGO partners to ensure a coordinated approach between humanitarian and development activities in support of emergency education in Lebanon and Jordan.
I understand that today’s panel will explore how commitments from civil society, governments, and multilateral institutions can best reach children in fragile and conflict-affected states.
Canada’s role in supporting the “No Lost Generation” initiative will no doubt be part of that discussion, as we look for new ways to align our efforts.
I wish you a fruitful discussion and I look forward to hearing about the ideas that come out.
Speech by Parliamentary Secretary Lois Brown on the situation in UkraineFebruary 26, 2014,
Mr. Chair, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this debate.
Like so many of my colleagues, I have been following recent developments in Ukraine closely. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by the violence.
Our Government was very pleased to learn of the dramatic decisions of the Ukrainian Parliament over the weekend and we believe that these developments represent a return to genuine democracy in Ukraine, reflecting the will of the majority of Ukrainians.
We are confident that Ukrainian democrats are committed to ensuring an orderly return to democracy and to economic reform. As always, Canada will be there to support Ukrainians during this process.
In the immediate term, our Government has responded to the urgent needs of those Ukrainians injured in the protests. Our Government also contributed to legal assistance for protesters charged by the Yanukovych government.
We are pleased to note that on Sunday, Ukraine’s new government dropped all charges against protesters and released them from prison.
We must not, however, make assumptions about the path that Ukraine will follow in the wake of these historic events. Rather, we should stand ready to support first steps toward the re-emergence of democracy in the short term, and stable economic development in the long term.
After so many years of bad and corrupt governance, the reforms that are needed in Ukraine are dramatic, and will require diligence and support from other nations.
Canada has always been on the side of Ukrainians who are fighting for their belief in a democratic, European Ukraine, and we believe that Ukraine’s best hope for democracy and economic prosperity lies in closer alignment with European and North American norms and institutions.
I would now like to take a few moments to tell you about Canada’s efforts in the long-term development work to help Ukraine achieve lasting economic prosperity.
Over the years, we have developed a close bilateral relationship, a solid economic partnership, and strong people-to-people ties.
In 1991, Canada was the first Western nation to recognize Ukraine’s independence, and more recently, to herald the release of Yulia Tymoshenko from prison.
Since Ukraine’s independence, our development assistance in Ukraine has focused on increasing economic opportunities for Ukrainians in a strengthened democracy.
Over the years, Canadian development assistance investments in private sector development and governance in Ukraine have contributed to the country’s transition from a centrally planned system towards a free-market, democratic model.
However, Ukraine was an integral part of the former Soviet Union, and as such, its economic transition has been slower and more difficult than perhaps anticipated.
This transition is not yet complete.
To build resilience and achieve broad-based prosperity, Ukraine must diversify and grow its real economy, especially through developing its small- and medium-sized enterprises – a sector that is far smaller than in other European countries.
Stimulating the growth of these enterprises will also help to expand and strengthen the middle class.
And we know from experience, a healthy, civically engaged middle class and healthy small-business sector will help to nurture a well-functioning democracy, and add to security and stability.
Given its rich natural resources, low labour costs, and large and well-educated population, Ukraine has excellent economic potential, but it will face challenges in becoming competitive.
If concluded, planned free-trade agreements with Europe and with Canada would help to provide a road map to greater competitiveness, within a predictable, rules-based framework.
To increase rates of economic growth in Ukraine, Canada is focusing on three areas of intervention.
The first area is to strengthen the investment climate in a sustainable way, by building economic foundations.
In practical terms, this means improving the capacity of all levels of government, including local governments, to deliver on the basic needs of citizens and to create a supportive framework for local business growth, and for trade and investment.
We are providing security and a level playing field for small and medium enterprises—from fair and transparent regulations to independent and predictable application of the rule of law.
We are also supporting technical assistance from the International Monetary Fund to the Government of Ukraine in the areas of banking sector regulation and monetary policy adjustment.
We are open to expanding and broadening this assistance, should Ukraine’s new government demonstrate a commitment to fundamental economic reforms.
The second area of focus is growing businesses, especially those that are micro-, small- and medium-sized firms, including those in the agriculture sector.
Our goal is to help make these businesses more sustainable and competitive.
We do this by helping entrepreneurs access the things we take for granted in Canada – like business networks, value chains, productivity-enhancing technology, insurance, and business financing.
The third area of focus, and one that I believe in strongly for a number of reasons, is investing in people, particularly women and youth.
Our objective is to build a skilled, trained workforce of women and men who can seize opportunities in a rapidly expanding labour market that is fuelled by the needs of local and international employers.
Careful investments of development assistance in these three areas, coupled with improved governance and elimination of corruption, will lead to increased employment opportunities and enhanced business productivity and profitability in Ukraine. This should result in rising household incomes and reduced poverty over the long-term.
As Ukraine’s economy continues to grow, so will the economic ties between our two countries.
Canada’s development program has contributed significantly to advancing Ukraine’s sustainable economic growth.
Agriculture is a key growth sector for Ukraine.
Canadian assistance, coupled with specialized training supported by the Government of Israel, has helped to increase the competitiveness of smallholder fruit and vegetable and dairy farmers, who have invested in improved technology and are working together to market higher-value, higher-quality products demanded by the marketplace.
Through technical assistance that focused on the cultivation of high-value crops, we have helped more than 6,800 smallholder farmers in the horticulture sector become more competitive. This has led to a 71 percent average increase in the net annual incomes of participating farmers and over $9 million in total sales, exceeding all expectations.
Another project created 16 new dairy cooperatives, improved the viability of a group of 20 family dairy farms, and leveraged private and public sector contributions of $2.5 million.
Agricultural insurance, Mr. Chair, is an essential component of a modern agricultural economy. It allows farmers to invest with confidence, and banks to lend to farmers with confidence.
With support from Canada, Ukraine has implemented a new agricultural insurance system, based on international best practice.
At the start of 2013, seven Ukrainian insurance companies were selling the 14 products developed by this project, resulting in more than 1,000 insurance contracts covering a total of 1,929 million hectares of crops.
The crop area covered expands every day.
Mr. Chair, Canada is also helping to create partnerships between Canadian and Ukrainian cities, to help them modernize their approach to local economic development planning.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has worked with municipal partners in 12 cities to develop and implement municipal strategic development plans.
These plans have helped to operationalize 15 demonstration projects in tourism development, city branding and marketing, and business centre creation.
As part of the implementation of the cities’ strategic plans, an additional 45 local economic development projects were launched. As a result, cities were able to attract $80 million in investments from private and donor sectors, thanks to a training program for city officials on how to promote cities’ competitive advantage.
We are working to improve the planning and delivery of services that support economic growth at the municipal level.
We have also helped government institutions at the regional level to formulate and implement reform-oriented policies that are in the public interest and that adhere to international best practices.
And we are assisting with the development of a national, demand-driven, vocational skills training system across the country.
Each of these initiatives will help to increase broad-based economic growth in Ukraine.
Mr. Chair, we are doing all of these things—and so much more—because we believe in Ukraine and its people. We look forward to continuing with that work, and to helping Ukraine and Ukrainians achieve the sustainable democracy and economic prosperity that they deserve.
Local Newmarket-Aurora economy will benefit from $53 Billion New Building Canada PlanFebruary 16, 2014,
Newmarket-Aurora MP Lois Brown welcomed the announcement of the details of the New Building Canada Plan, which includes support for small communities, by Prime Minister Stephen Harper February 13 in York Region.
“The New Building Canada Plan, expected to launch in spring 2014, is the largest, long-term infrastructure plan in our nation’s history and will continue to focus on projects that enhance economic growth,” said MP Brown. “It shows our government’s strong commitment to small communities by providing predictable, stable support so that municipalities with fewer than 100,000 residents, such as Newmarket and Aurora, can access federal funds for local priority projects.”
The New Building Canada Plan is the largest and longest federal infrastructure plan in Canadian history, providing stable funding for a 10-year period. It includes:
- The Community Improvement Fund, consisting of the Gas Tax Fund and the incremental Goods and Services Tax Rebate for Municipalities, will provide over $32 billion to municipalities for projects such as roads, public transit and recreational facilities, and other community infrastructure.
- A $14 billion New Building Canada Fund, which consists of a $4 billion National Infrastructure Component that will support projects of national significance and a $10 billion Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component (PTIC) for projects of national, local or regional significance. $1 billion of PTIC is dedicated to projects in communities under 100,000 residents.
- An additional $1.25 billion in funding for the P3 (Public-Private Partnerships) Canada Fund.
- $6 billion in funding that continues to flow across the country this year and beyond under existing infrastructure programs.
“Our Government has proudly made unprecedented investments in Canada’s infrastructure since 2006,” said MP Brown. With the release of the details of the New Building Canada Plan, our communities have the information needed to develop their local infrastructure priorities and start planning for the years ahead."
Backgrounder – Building Canada Plan Project Categories
Canada’s infrastructure needs vary from region to region; one size does not fit all. Provinces, territories and municipalities are better positioned to prioritize projects in their communities. It is up to each province, territory and municipality to prioritize projects that are important in their regions. Transit, disaster mitigation and wastewater projects are eligible across all components of the New Building Canada Plan.
Categories under the National Infrastructure Component of the New Building Canada Fund are limited to those that provide the greatest economic impact:
- Highways and major roads
- Public transit
- Rail infrastructure
- Local and regional airports
- Port infrastructure
- Intelligent transportation systems (ITS)
- Disaster mitigation infrastructure
Categories under the Provincial Territorial Infrastructure Componentof the New Building Canada Fund include a new innovation category, which supports infrastructure at post-secondary institutions that supports advanced research and teaching. The eligible categories are:
- Highways and major roads
- Public transit
- Drinking water
- Sulid waste management
- Green energy
- Innovation (post-secondary infrastructure supporting advanced research and teaching)
- Connectivity and broadband
- Brownfield redevelopment
- Disaster mitigation infrastructure
- Local and regional airports
- Short-line rail
- Short-sea shipping
- Northern infrastructure (territories only)
The Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component (PTIC) includes the Small Communities Fund that will provide $1 billion in funding for municipalities with fewer than 100,000 residents.
Categories under the Gas Tax Fund, part of the Community Improvement Fund, have been expanded. The Fund supports municipal infrastructure projects that fall into the fullowing categories:
- Recreation and Sport
- Drinking water
- Wastewater infrastructure
- Public transit
- Community energy systems
- Sulid waste management
- Local roads and highways
- Disaster mitigation
- Brownfield redevelopment
The New Building Canada Plan and will be in a position to accept proposals under the new Plan in Spring 2014.