Government of Canada

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

Mission and Mandate

A boy in his family's restaurant in Indonesia © ACDI-CIDA/Virginia Boyd


Lead Canada's international effort to help people living in poverty.


Manage Canada's support and resources effectively and accountably to achieve meaningful, sustainable results and engage in policy development in Canada and internationally, enabling Canada's effort to realize its development objectives.

The history of Canada's international development program

Prior to 1959, most Canadian assistance took the form of contributions to the United Nations and its agencies.

In 1959, the Department of Trade and Commerce set up an Economic and Technical Assistance Bureau to look after the growing needs of developing countries for international assistance.

In 1960, the Bureau's functions were transferred to the Department of External Affairs, now the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), to form a consolidated external aid office. The creation of the External Aid Office was fundamental to Canada's role in international development because foreign aid was increasing.

In 1968, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) was established to administer the bulk of Canada's Official Development Assistance program and to better assist people living in poverty.

Through Canada's Economic Action Plan 2013 on March 21, 2013, the Government of Canada announced the amalgamation of CIDA and DFAIT.

The new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development will facilitate a more coherent approach to Canadian international policy, support the achievement of Canada's international goals, as well as provide improved outcomes for Canadians through more efficient, effective and targeted programming.