April 30, 2013
Ottawa, Ontario — The Harper Government will match the final tally of $2.27 million raised by Canadian Rotarians in support of the global effort to eradicate polio. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will also match the total contributions raised. The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, made the announcement today as he and other Members of Parliament met with representatives from Rotary in Canada on Parliament Hill to celebrate the final tally of the Pennies and More for Polio initiative.
"Our government is committed to the fight against polio as part of our international assistance priority to secure the future of children and youth," said Minister Fantino. "I applaud Canadians for their generosity and encourage them to continue their efforts to make polio history. The real winners of this successful fundraising campaign are children, as the funds collected will help ensure that they are protected from this devastating disease."
Last September, the Harper Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation agreed to match dollar-for-dollar donations made by Canadian Rotarians to the Pennies and More for Polio initiative until March 1, 2013, to a maximum of $1 million. This cap was lifted in February to match the total amount of funds raised through the initiative by Canadian Rotarians. All three partners will provide their contributions directly to the World Health Organization's Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
"On behalf of the Rotarians of Canada and our worldwide membership, I thank the Canadian government for its generous support of our work to end polio once and for all," said Wilfrid J. Wilkinson, Chair of the Rotary Foundation Trustees. "The success of the national Pennies and More for Polio fundraiser demonstrates how the public and private sectors, by working together, can leverage resources to maximize our combined impact. This is exactly the kind of cooperation we need as we make the final push to our goal of a polio-free world."
Last week at the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Minister Fantino announced that Canada will invest $250 million over the next six years to support global polio eradication. This commitment will advance Canada's development priority of securing the future of children and youth and improving maternal, newborn and child health. This historic commitment will include opportunities for Canadian engagement in polio eradication.
Canada and its partners have helped immunize hundreds of millions of children and have eradicated the polio virus from almost every country on earth. Canada remains committed to completely eradicating this disease in the three countries where polio remains a persistent problem: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, and finishing the job as quickly as possible.
The government's Economic Action Plan 2013 affirms Canada's commitment to international development investments such as immunization. The new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development will maintain the mandate of poverty alleviation and will ensure greater efficiency, accountability, and focus to continue to improve the lives of people in need around the world.
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For more information, media should contact:
Daniel Bezalel Richardsen
Press Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation