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December 24, 2012

Engineers support federal focus on foreign aid

The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies (ACEC) has applauded recent remarks by International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino concerning the need to refocus Canada's foreign aid priorities.

“The need for foreign aid is a major challenge in many parts of the world and we need the involvement of both non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector,” said ACEC president John Gamble.

“We support the creation of an environment where the private sector and non-governmental organizations can work side-by-side, leveraging their respective strengths and expertise.”

>>Fantino, the minister responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), outlined the agency’s economic growth strategy and opportunities for Canadian businesses that work in foreign markets in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada.

He said he believes the key to building prosperity in developing countries lies with broadening partnerships, seeking innovation and continuing to focus on aid effectiveness.

CIDA has a long history of working with the private sector in delivering the foreign aid program.

“The private sector in Canada is our largest pool of human, technical and financial resources,” Fantino said, noting that Canadian companies have shown themselves to be socially responsible while diversifying into the developing world.

Gamble said many of his association’s 500 member firms have first-hand experience with federal aid programs.

“Aid can take many forms, all of which can provide value,” he said. “We are looking forward to an approach that puts more emphasis on community and economic infrastructure that helps create long-term self-reliance. “

Gamble said this is an area where engineering companies can make a meaningful contribution.

Another benefit, according to ACEC, is that these programs have the potential to showcase Canadian expertise and provide business opportunities for Canada’s engineering sector.

“We need not apologize if Canada’s foreign aid also leads to greater opportunities for Canadian businesses,” Gamble said, noting that Canada is the world’s fifth largest exporter of engineering services and is well-regarded within the global engineering community.

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