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December 7, 2009

Prime Minister Stephen Harper     
email:  pm@pm.gc.ca
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington St
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Dear Mr. Prime Minister Harper:

KAIROS – Termination of CIDA funding

On November 30, 2009 the Canadian government, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), informed the ecumenical non-governmental agency KAIROS that their 2009-2013 proposal had been rejected and they would no longer receive funding from CIDAKAIROS had submitted a 4-year program proposal to CIDA on human rights and ecological sustainability.  The total program cost of the proposal is $9,211,483 over four years (CIDA contributes just over $7 million of that amount).  This is consistent with previous levels of CIDA funding to KAIROS.

KAIROS was told verbally that their program did not fit the Government of Canada’s priorities and there was no written explanation as to why the funding has been denied.  This decision, if not reversed, would cut funds to 21 ecumenical and citizen’s organizations in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and cut educational work that helps Canadians across the country to develop skills and knowledge in the exercise of their global citizenship. 

KAIROS, and its predecessor organizations, have been funded by CIDA since 1973.  That is over 35 years of collaboration between the churches (working ecumenically through KAIROS) and CIDA on international development and public engagement.  The KAIROS program from 2006-2009 received a positive audit report and an excellent evaluation.  The 2009-2013 program proposed a focus on human rights and ecological justice.  Two of CIDA’s priorities under promoting good governance are (human rights) and (advancing ecological sustainability).  KAIROS’ program focus on human rights is completely consistent with the ODA Accountability Act which came into effect in June of 2008.  The act requires all Official Development Assistance “to be consistent with international human rights standards”. 

The proposal met the CIDA criteria and was approved by CIDA staff and was then forwarded to The Minister of International Cooperation, Bev Oda, in July 2009.  In September 2009, the agreement was still not signed and KAIROS was granted a two-month extension.  During this time there was no communication to KAIROS from the Minister’s office.  On November 30, 2009, the last day of this extension, KAIROS was informed that it would not be funded.

This decision, if it is not reversed, will have a devastating impact on the work and well-being of KAIROS’ partners overseas who support hundreds of marginalized communities and thousands of people.  Furthermore, it will decimate their Canadian education program, which promotes and increases Canadian’s commitment to international cooperation.  KAIROS supports partners in Sudan, Congo, the Philippines, and Colombia who face extreme human rights and humanitarian crises as well as political repression.  Many of these overseas partners risk their lives for the work that they do.  KAIROS’ accompaniment, advocacy and education work with partners has saved lives.

CUPE finds this situation extremely disturbing and we are puzzled that an organization with such a fine reputation would suddenly find itself in such unjust circumstances.  And we are horrified to think what these cuts mean to the thousands of people that are assisted through the support of KAIROS.

CUPE has worked with KAIROS on many occasions and has been very impressed with their level of commitment and ability to deliver.  KAIROS provides a very important link with faith based organizations that are engaged in social justice work throughout the country.  We are very concerned about the future should this decision be allowed to stand.

We urge your government to reverse its decision and restore the funding to such an important organization.

Yours truly,

CUPE National President

cc: Michael Ignatieff
 Jack Layton
 Gilles Duceppe
Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation
Margaret Biggs, President of CIDA
Jennifer  Henry, KAIROS
Claude Généreux, National Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE
Kenneth Georgetti, President, C.L.C.