North-South Institute to close after federal funding cut
2 years of negotiations came up dry for 40-year-old think-tank on development issues
Another Ottawa NGO has closed its doors. The North-South Institute, which described itself as a "non-partisan policy research institution dedicated to international development," announced yesterday that it simply hasn't raised enough cash.
Bruce Moore, the chair of the board at the aid think-tank, says the reason is simple: loss of federal government funding.
"We have not been able to find other sources of funds of a sufficient amount to fill the gap that has brought us to this point," he said in a phone interview.
"The gap [came about] because the government has turned down our requests to be one of our significant funding partners."
Moore says the institute, which has operated for 40 years, has been in negotiations for two years with the office of Christian Paradis, minister for international development.
He says they learned in the last two weeks that their funding would not be renewed.
In an emailed statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development said the institute no longer met their funding criteria.
"The previous agreement between the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and the North-South Institute ended according to the contractually-agreed schedule," the statement reads.
"When the North-South Institute submitted a proposal for new funding, it was considered in a timely matter, but it did not meet DFATD’s publicly posted criteria."
The statement said that three years ago the institute "committed to diversifying and growing its funding sources beyond the government" and two contract extensions were provided to help with the transition. The institute still has an active project with the federal government through the International Development Research Centre, a federal crown corporation, the statement said.
Funding had been diversified
Moore said the institute has made major strides in diversifying its funding sources in recent years, but without federal money it simply can't afford the overhead to keep its doors open.
This organization has been seen to be a public good. And this is now being lost, - Bruce Moore
"This organization has been seen to be a public good. And this is now being lost, " he said. "People feel that we ensure that we not rely upon opinion, but combine the experience of development practitioners with the evidence of data-based research."
The group had been active as a think-tank since 1976, funding research both in the developed world and building capacity for research in the developing world.
The think-tank has won awards for its work. For example, in 2012 it was named "the world's top think-tank with an operating budget under $5 million" for the second year in a row, according to a release yesterday.
It's been several years since the federal Conservative government decided to defund some established Canadian aid groups including Kairos and the Canadian Council for International Cooperation.
At the time, in 2010, there was furor over what was deemed to be "punishment" by the Conservative government for organizations it felt were politically offside.
Kairos, in particular, was accused in a speech of being anti-Israel by then-immigration minister Jason Kenney.
The government later denied its actions were politically motivated.