The Budget states that, as part of a broader effort to promote integration and efficiency within its international engagement and development efforts, the Canadian International Development Agency (“CIDA”) will amalgamate with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (“DFAIT”). The combined agency will be called the Department of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Development. This merger follows a previous merger in 2006 of the formerly separate departments of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

The Budget states that this merger is being done out of recognition of the increasingly multi-faceted development objectives that involve bilateral and multilateral relationships, trade and commercial interests, and engagement with a range of Canadian stakeholders. The new amalgamated agency will continue to serve the same functions as DFAIT and CIDA. Core development assistance, including poverty alleviation through development and humanitarian assistance, will remain intact.

In addition to the establishment of a single Department of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Development, the Budget states that the Federal Government will, for the first time, enshrine in law the important roles and responsibilities of the Minister for development and humanitarian assistance. It is hoped that the combined agency will result in greater policy coherence on priority issues and will result in greater overall impact.

At this early stage, the implications of this amalgamation are uncertain. The Budget states that development priorities will remain intact and it is hoped that the availability of grant assistance to development organizations will not diminish. Organizations that receive funding from either CIDA or DFAIT should watch for communications from these agencies and should consult with them as appropriate to ensure a smooth transition. That said, we wonder if the change will result in a further focusing of Canadian development aid towards the support of non-development related foreign policy goals.