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The Harper Government lifts cap on polio matching fund

News and Press Release
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Richmond, British Columbia ― Countless children will be protected from contracting a debilitating disease, thanks to additional support to the 'Pennies and More for Polio matching fund initiative', augmenting its original commitment. The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, announced today that Canada would not only match contributions of up to $1 million, as announced last September, but will match all contributions raised by Rotarians by March 1, 2013, in support of eradicating polio. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also announced that it will be matching contributions, dollar for dollar.

"Canadian generosity is second to none, as shown by this tremendous initiative, which has not only met, but surpassed, its goal", said Minister Fantino. "The Harper Government is pleased to be a key partner in combating this devastating disease, but money alone cannot eradicate polio. We call on the leadership in those countries still affected to promote science-based information and ensure a safe environment for polio immunization workers."

Last September, Minister Fantino challenged Canadians to join in this fight by supporting Rotarians in Canada to reach their fundraising goal by March 1, 2013. Under Pennies and More for Polio, Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had each originally agreed to match dollar-for-dollar donations made by Canadians to the Rotary Foundation to a maximum of $1 million. With the outstanding achievement of Rotary's goal well in advance of its March deadline, both have now agreed to match the total amount of funds raised through the initiative, which is expected to reach more than $1.6 million, to be provided to the World Health Organization's Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

"Canada's support has been, and will continue to be, critical in the final push to end polio" said Dr. Robert Scott, Chair of Rotary's International Polio Eradication Committee. "We are on the verge of eradicating this deadly disease, and must redouble our efforts to ensure that the goal is reached."

In October 2011, Prime Minister Harper reaffirmed Canada's support for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which builds on CIDA's ongoing commitment to improve the health of mothers, newborns, and children.

"We have a unique window of opportunity to change history and end polio thanks to tremendous advances in 2012" said Chris Elias, President of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "This innovative program is another example of Canada's and Rotarians" long-time commitment and leadership to ensuring children are forever protected from this debilitating, but preventable, disease."

Since 1998, Canada and its partners have supported the immunization of hundreds of millions of children, which has led to the eradication of the polio virus from almost every country on earth, and continue to put an end to this disease in the few vulnerable pockets where it remains.

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