Created in 1999 to help address commitments made by Canada during the Summit of the Americas Process, the Inter-American Program supports regional development activities in most of the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
This region has the highest levels of inequities in the world—both in terms of wealth distribution and of access to basic services and opportunities. Ten of the 15 most unequal countries in the world are located in Latin America. Poverty remains a serious challenge, as persistent economic and social inequality disproportionately impacts the poorest and most vulnerable, such as Indigenous populations, Afro-descendants, women, children, and youth.
The region is also one of the most violent in the world.Violence and organized crime are increasing with a third of the world’s 450,000 murders each year occur in Latin America and the Caribbean, though the region is home to less than a tenth of the population. The homicide rate for youth in the region is more than four times the global average rate for that age group. Crime and violence are severe impediments to inclusive and clean economic growth and contribute to regional instability and irregular migration flows.
After decades of authoritarian or military rule, all governments are now democratically elected across the region—with the exception of Cuba. Not all governments, however, operate in a fully democratic manner and improvements are still needed in human rights and the rule of law. The current constitutional crisis in Venezuela is a stark example. These challenges continue to negatively influence citizens’ confidence in democracy and the market economy.
Our international development assistance
Search the Project Browser to see what Canada is doing to support development through the Inter-American Program.
Canada’s Inter-American Program focuses on issues that are best addressed at the regional or multi-country level, where economies of scale can be achieved. Regional efforts are complementary to bilateral initiatives, and deal with trans-boundary issues from a regional perspective, such as:
- human rights
The Program contributes to the Government of Canada's goals of poverty reduction and increased democracy in the region and strengthens key inter-American institutions such as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Improved human rights, governance and democracy
Canada’s Inter-American Program seeks to improve transparency, representation and democratic governance of regional, national and local institutions, in order to establish a stable environment where human rights are respected and poverty reduction can occur. In addition, while there has been progress on gender equality issues in the region, there are still significant challenges. Cultural and patriarchal attitudes continue to define gender roles, competencies and inequalities.
The Inter-American Program’s projects build on regional expertise and partnerships to respond to the challenges.
Key anticipated results:
- Increased ability of elected officials to carry out their oversight functions and improved public management systems, including financial management, in key line departments
- Strengthened abilities of institutions and professionals in the justice sector to implement and monitor reforms
- Improved capacity of regional human rights institutions to effectively and efficiently carry out their mandates, including outreach and capacity-building activities with member states
Important progress has been made in the region in basic indicators relating to the health, life expectancy and education of women and girls. However, specific areas of reproductive health and women’s rights (e.g. family planning and teen pregnancies) still raise concerns. Statistics and data on girls and women are often lacking. Canada’s Inter-American Program aims to respond to these issues by supporting regional and national organizations, as well as Canadian NGOs, in focusing on women and girls.
Key anticipated results:
- Improved health services to better respond to the needs of women, children and excluded groups
- Improved capacity of health care workers to deliver quality, culturally appropriate and gender-sensitive health interventions to women and girls
- Improved performance of child protection systems at the regional, inter-country and national levels
- Improved employment potential for marginalized populations and at-risk youth to facilitate their participation in sustainable economic activities
Inclusive and sustainable economic growth
The decline in poverty and inequality rates in the region over the last decade can be attributed to economic growth, coupled with well-targeted environment sensitive government policies and private-sector-led job creation. To continue the fight against poverty and inequality, while integrating environmental and climate change concerns, it is crucial that countries provide an environment for private sector, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises, to flourish. Canada’s Inter-American Program focuses on supporting regional initiatives that provide such an environment. In addition, women continue to be disproportionately affected by poverty, despite the growth of women’s participation in the labour force. Women’s working conditions still tend to be more unstable than men’s. Addressing this issue by promoting greater equality is at the core of the Program’s projects.
Key anticipated results:
- More predictable, transparent, accountable and stable environment for businesses
- Strengthened national capacity to access and to benefit from regional and global trade liberalization
- Strengthened public financial management
- Improved regulatory frameworks and systems to do business and stabilize economies
- Increased agricultural productivity in support of food security while adapting and building resilience to climate change
- Organization of American States
- Pan-American Health Organization
- Permanent Mission of Canada to the Organization of American States
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