Press Release - Thursday, August 23, 2001

Ottawa - August 23, 2001. The Export Development Corporation (EDC) is refusing to release this year’s basic statistics on its loans to the poorest countries, saying it needs to ensure the information falls within the guidelines of its forthcoming policy on disclosure of information. On August 21, the Department of Finance released the annual summary of statistics on debts owed to Canada, however the information for Canada’s biggest creditor, EDC, is missing.
Non-governmental organisations are frustrated with the lack of information from EDC, pointing out that the same information has been released every spring for the past few years.  They argue that the new disclosure policy is supposed to increase past disclosure practices, not decrease.
“EDC is using its draft disclosure policy as an excuse to deny the public access to information,” says Pamela Foster, Coordinator of the Halifax Initiative, host of the NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation. “It is outrageous that the public is placed in a position where people have to beg EDC for basic information”.
 The government began providing stats on debts to Canada in 1998, responding to NGO requests for information. In 1999 the government confirmed that its policy was one of "publishing on an annual basis information on amounts owing to Canada by foreign countries, while protecting commercial confidentiality, under the auspices of the Export Development Corporation, the Canadian Wheat Board, and other official sources".2
This year, the Department of Finance delayed release of the information for months while it waited for EDC permission to reveal its numbers - permission that never came.
The debts owed to EDC from the poorest countries will be written off as part of international efforts for debt cancellation. Currently, EDC will be reimbursed directly from taxpayers for these losses.
The NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation believes that EDC should be placed under the Access to Information Act and that it should take responsibility for loans that are uncollectable.                      
For Information:
Pamela Foster, Halifax Initiative, Tel: 613-789-4447 Cell: 613-366-8100
Derek MacCuish, Social Justice Committee. Tel: 514-933-6797 Cell: 514-213-6516
1. Statistics on debt to Canada listed by country and categorized by type (commercial/ sovereign), creditor agency, concessional/ non-concessional, and arrears. Figures for last year are shown on the Halifax Initiative web site ( and Social Justice Committee web site (
2. Source: \Helping the Poorest - Canada’s Debt Relief Initiative\, backgrounder provided with Dept. of Finance press release 99-032, 25 March 1999