Our commitment to financial accountability during the COVID-19 pandemic – and at all times
With the unwavering dedication of our individual supporters, institutional donors, and our government partners, Plan International Canada has been able to respond to the complex COVID-19 health emergency by innovating, remaining agile, and ensuring continuity in our support of children – particularly girls – in some of the most excluded communities in the world.
We are proud of what we have accomplished over the past 18 months in our crisis response, and we have upheld our commitment to transparency and accountability throughout.
A recent Financial Post article reported on an increase in the cash positions held by Canadian charities during the pandemic coupled with a decrease in charitable activities during the same time. The details about Plan International Canada within the article resulted in a misleading and factually inaccurate characterization of our work, of our impact in helping to transform the lives of children and their families, and most importantly, of our effective and expedient business model pivot during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The financial statements of Plan International Canada referenced in the article cover the period ending on June 30, 2020, and therefore only provide a three-month snapshot of our activity during the onset of the pandemic. Furthermore, Plan International Canada did not apply for, and has not received, any government COVID-19-specific support such as the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) or Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). As a global development organization, Plan International Canada receives grants from the Government of Canada for international program activities where specific in-country programs and planned outcomes are funded, and the funds cannot be deviated or re-programmed without prior approval by the federal government.
As part of our steadfast commitment to responsible financial management, our annual financial statements are produced in accordance with accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations, part of generally accepted accounting principles in Canada as set by the Canadian Accounting Standards Board. Our financial statements are independently audited by globally recognized firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and are always available on our website: plancanada.ca/where-your-money-goes.
Our COVID-19 response
Throughout our response to the challenges presented by the global pandemic, our priority has been fulfilling our duty of care to the children, communities, staff, and volunteers we work with. Plan International’s COVID-19 response to-date has reached over 80 million people around the world.
Examples of how our programs were adapted to meet the urgent needs of children and families during the pandemic include:
- Raising awareness on COVID-19 prevention: The main emphasis of our programs was to raise awareness about COVID-19 among millions of children and their families around the world. This includes reaching over 1.3 million people with COVID-19 gender equality and sexual and gender-based violence messages. As of February 2021, 1,146 traditional and religious leaders were trained on COVID-19 awareness, positive coping mechanisms, gender equality, and gender-based violence; and 104 media outlets, including community radios, were trained on accurate reporting and dispelling myths.
- Health Programming:
- Our Global Affairs Canada and Canadian donor-funded program Strengthening Health Outcomes for Women and Children reached over 704,000 people since the outset of COVID-19. More than 7,000 healthcare professionals were trained on infection prevention and control, case detection, and how to address inequality by integrating gender and inclusion considerations into communications about the risks of COVID-19.
- We have been installing handwashing facilities, distributing hygiene and menstrual kits and sharing age-appropriate, gender-aware health and hygiene information to strengthen COVID-19 prevention efforts in communities.
- In Zimbabwe, where malaria is one of the leading causes of death, we adapted our approach to ensure we could continue to distribute 320,250 life-saving insecticide-treated bed nets during the height of COVID-19 through a safe door-to-door approach. This adapted delivery method has helped to protect 640,500 people from malaria.
- Plan International Canada was also able to repurpose funds from projects financed through The Global Fund to address food insecurity resulting from COVID-19 in Benin and El Salvador. By distributing food rations for people living with HIV and the most vulnerable members within LGBTQ communities, 2,000 people living with HIV, including 1,282 women, received food rations in Benin and 1,191 families affected by HIV received food baskets in El Salvador.
- Advancing women’s and girls’ rights: In partnership with Global Affairs Canada, our project Women’s Voices and Leadership supports local and regional women’s rights organizations and movements in Ethiopia and Ghana. Due to the increased gender impacts of COVID-19, our programming pivoted and identified additional groups to implement COVID-19 specific activities in their communities. These groups are supporting startup capital for women with disabilities who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and young women who are out of school, and are providing legal support, transportation and hotlines for survivors of gender-based violence.
- Education: The pandemic has caused the largest education disruption in history, affecting more than 1.5 billion students at the height of the crisis. Plan International is working to support remote education in 50 countries via radio, television, social media, and apps. We’re working to emphasize the importance of girls’ education, implement diverse distance-learning strategies and psychosocial supports for children, incorporate COVID-19 information into educational materials, train teachers for distance learning, return children safely to school, and reduce dropout rates due to the pandemic.
- Child protection: We are raising awareness about COVID-19 via different channels (TV, internet, radio, posters etc.) and providing targeted support to vulnerable households. This includes messaging to address the child protection risks associated with lockdowns, such as increased sexual and gender-based violence.
- Refugee and internally displaced people: We are particularly concerned for people living in refugee and displacement camps and settlements who are vulnerable to COVID-19. We are increasing access to water and soap in refugee and displaced camps and providing hygiene and menstrual health kits. We are ensuring families have access to basic needs such as food, water and hygiene equipment and that there are safe care arrangements and psychosocial support for vulnerable children.
We remain focused on ensuring the communities we work with have the right programs so that they are well supported, have adequate supplies, and infrastructure to prevent and respond to this global pandemic, with child protection and gender equality at the forefront of our efforts.
For more information about how we’re actively helping to address the impact of COVID-19 on children and stopping the setback on girls’ rights, please visit: plancanada.ca/covid-19.
About Plan International Canada
Plan International Canada is a global organization dedicated to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls. We have been building powerful partnerships for children for over 80 years and are now active in more than 70 countries. Visit plancanada.ca for more information and follow @PlanCanada on social media to join the conversation.
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