Canadian Government Initiatives Supporting International Remittances

Canadian Government Initiatives Supporting International Remittances

International remittances are the sending of money across borders, usually by migrants working abroad to their families and communities back home. These transfers play a crucial role in both sending and receiving countries, boosting their economic and social development as a critical aspect of global financial flows.

How Are International Remittances Sent From Canada Significant To Canada?

According to the online information-finding platform, Finder, Canada sent $7,183 million in remittances in 2021, higher than the $6,785 million in 2020 but lower than the $8,763 million in 2019.

For Canada, international remittances are significant as they help boost economies by contributing significantly to GDP, often exceeding foreign aid flows. They can be used for essential needs like food, shelter, and healthcare, alleviating poverty and improving living standards.

International remittances also help boost the development potential of the receiving countries in the sense that, when used wisely, they help invest in education, healthcare infrastructure, and small businesses, promoting long-term economic growth and development.

International remittances also help foster diaspora engagement, fostering strong economic and social ties between migrants and their home countries; all the while facilitating knowledge transfer and cultural exchange.

How Are International Remittances Significant To Their Receiving Countries?

For receiving countries, international remittances help to reduce poverty providing vital income for families, helping them meet basic needs and improve their quality of life. 

They also help with financial inclusion giving access to financial services for underbanked populations, encouraging savings and investments in local economies.

Lastly, remittances are also instrumental in gender empowerment in the sense that women often receive and manage remittances, increasing their economic agency and decision-making power within their households and communities.

What Is The Canadian Government's Role In Supporting This Flow Of Funds?

The Canadian government has since 2014, through their Call to action on remittances strived to support international remittance flows. They play a multi-faceted role in supporting international remittances. They conduct research, develop policies, create a secure environment, and actively engage with the international community to ensure safe, efficient, and affordable transactions for all. We shall be examining their role in doing this briefly below:

1. Policy and Regulation

Canada continues to conduct studies to assess the market and explore innovative solutions to lower remittance costs and increase efficiency. They also regularly gather data on remittances,  informing policy decisions and tracking progress towards international goals.

Furthermore, Canada improved their regulatory environment, pushing forward legislation amendments to enhance transparency, combat money laundering, and protect users of remittance platforms.

2. Fostering Innovation

The Canadian government encourages Remittance Service Providers (RSPs) to welcome innovative approaches to improve user experience and transparency. The government also went on to support digital remittance platforms providing initiatives that promote digital remittance channels, potentially lowering costs and reaching more users.

3. International Collaboration

The Canadian government has partnered with international partners to share findings and best practices to improve global remittance systems. They also support global initiatives like the Financial Stability Board's (FSB) cross-border payments project to address affordability and accessibility issues.

Canadian Policies Supporting International Remittances

Policies on Regulation and Transparency

  • FINTRAC: The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada is crucial in preventing money laundering and terrorism financing associated with remittances. It requires reporting suspicious transactions, enhances transparency in the financial system, and collaborates with law enforcement to combat illicit activities.
  • Transparency Initiatives: Canada promotes several initiatives to ensure transparency and consumer protection in the remittance industry:
    • Remittance Price Comparison Website: Allows Canadians to compare costs and services offered by different providers, enabling informed choices.
    • Disclosure Requirements: Regulates what information remittance service providers (RSPs) need to disclose to consumers regarding fees, exchange rates, and delivery timelines.
    • Consumer Education: Campaigns raise awareness about safe remittance practices, protecting individuals from fraud and unfair terms.

Policies on Taxation

  • Tax Policies: No specific taxes are levied on international remittances sent from Canada. However, income earned from investments or business activities abroad may be subject to taxation upon return to Canada.
  • Tax Treaties: Double taxation treaties between Canada and other countries can potentially impact remittance costs and volumes. These treaties aim to avoid double taxation of income, which could encourage investment and financial flows between countries. However, the specific provisions of each treaty need to be analyzed to determine their impact on remittances.

Policies On Development Assistance

  • Canada's ODA: Canada's Official Development Assistance (ODA) aligns with remittance flows in several ways:
    • Focus on priority areas: ODA programs target similar development goals as many remittances - poverty reduction, education, healthcare, and economic empowerment.
    • Leveraging remittances: Initiatives aim to encourage productive utilization of remittances for investment in local businesses, infrastructure, and education, maximizing their development impact.
  • Encouraging Development-focused Remittances: Programs like the "Diaspora Action Plan" promote collaboration with diaspora communities and civil society organizations to channel remittances toward sustainable development projects in recipient countries.

Canadian Programs Supporting Remittances

Highlighted below are some of the programs the Canadian government have put in place to help ease the flow of remittances to Canada.

1. Pilot Project with Canadian Social Mission Organizations (SMOs):

The aim of this pilot program is to connect Canadian SMOs with diaspora communities and local partner organizations in developing countries.

Their activities involve diaspora engagement where workshops, events, and online platforms connect Canadian diaspora members with development needs in their home countries, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing.

They also help identify and support locally-driven development projects in recipient countries, such as infrastructure improvements, education initiatives, and entrepreneurship training.

In the area of remittance channelling, the Canadian SMOs bring forth initiatives linking diaspora engagement with responsible remittance practices, encouraging productive use of funds to support identified projects.

The impact of this program is to leverage the passion and expertise of Canadian diaspora communities for sustainable development in their home countries while maximizing the impact of their financial contributions.

2. Partnerships with Remittance Service Providers (RSPs):

The goal of this partnership is to collaborate with RSPs to offer financial literacy programs and promote responsible remittance practices.

The activities of this partnership include providing financial education to Canadian remitters by making available workshops and online modules which educate them about safe sending practices, comparing costs and exchange rates, and understanding how to maximize the impact of their remittances.

Then there are consumer protection initiatives which raise awareness about common remittance scams and unfair practices, empowering individuals to make informed choices.

Also included is product development which encourages RSPs to develop remittance products aligned with development goals, such as linking sending options to specific projects or facilitating investments in local businesses.

The impact of these activities is to equip remitters with knowledge and tools to make informed decisions, protect themselves from financial risks, and contribute to positive development outcomes in recipient countries.

3. Support for Digital Remittance Platforms and Innovations:

This support focuses on the development and adoption of digital remittance platforms and innovative technologies to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

The activities of this support include providing funding and grants to startups and organizations developing innovative remittance solutions, such as blockchain-based platforms or mobile apps.

There is also regulatory support where the Canadian Government collaborates with the industry to streamline regulations and create a favourable environment for digital remittance innovation.

Pilot projects are then carried out to test and implement new technologies, like biometric authentication or digital wallets, to enhance the security and accessibility of remittance services.

The impact of this is based on the fact that digital platforms and innovations have the potential to significantly reduce remittance costs, increase transparency, and reach underserved populations, ultimately increasing the flow of funds and their development impact.

The programs listed above showcase the Canadian government's multifaceted approach to supporting effective and responsible international remittances. By fostering diaspora engagement, promoting financial literacy, and embracing technological advancements, Canada aims to maximize the positive impact of these financial flows on both sending and receiving countries.

What Are The Challenges and Opportunities Found In Canadian Government Initiatives Supporting International Remittances?

Highlighted below are the challenges this venture by the Canadian government presents and the opportunities the Canadian government can use to address them:

1. Informal Channels and their Impact:

Challenge: A significant portion of remittances flow through informal channels like family networks or money couriers, making them difficult to track and regulate. This poses challenges for:

  • Money laundering and terrorism financing: Informal channels provide avenues for illicit activities to thrive, hindering transparency and potentially undermining development goals.
  • Data collection and policy development: Lack of accurate data on informal flows makes it difficult to assess their impact and design effective policies to support them.
  • Financial inclusion: Individuals relying on informal channels often lack access to formal financial services, limiting their economic opportunities and financial security.


  • Formalization strategies: Exploring ways to encourage informal channels to transition to formal systems, such as simplifying regulations, offering incentives for digital transactions, and building trust in formal providers.
  • Leveraging technology: Utilizing blockchain or other innovative technologies to track informal flows and ensure compliance with regulations while protecting user privacy.
  • Data partnerships: Collaborating with informal service providers and community organizations to gather better data on informal flows and their impact on development.

2. Ensuring Remittances Reach Intended Beneficiaries and Contribute to Financial Inclusion:

Challenge: Ensuring remittances reach their intended recipients and support their financial well-being can be difficult due to:

  • Financial illiteracy: Lack of knowledge about managing finances and choosing appropriate remittance services can lead to inefficient use of funds or exposure to scams.
  • Limited access to financial services: Recipients in developing countries may lack access to bank accounts or other formal financial tools, restricting their ability to save, invest, or build financial security.
  • Lack of transparency: Remittance recipients may not have enough information about fees, exchange rates, and delivery timelines, leading to unfair costs and diminished impact.


  • Financial literacy programs: Partnering with NGOs and social mission organizations to provide financial education workshops and resources for both senders and receivers, promoting safe, informed, and productive use of remittances.
  • Digital remittance platforms: Supporting the development and adoption of digital platforms that offer transparent costs, efficient delivery, and access to financial services like savings accounts for recipients.
  • Collaboration with local service providers: Partnering with community-based organizations and financial institutions in receiving countries to develop remittance products and services tailored to local needs and ensure funds reach intended beneficiaries.

3. Balancing Regulation and Innovation:

Challenge: Striking a balance between protecting consumers and fostering innovation in the remittance market can be challenging. Overly strict regulations may stifle competition and limit the development of new technologies, while insufficient regulation could leave consumers vulnerable to fraud and unfair practices.


  • Risk-based approach: Implementing regulations that target high-risk activities and transactions, while allowing space for innovative fintech startups to operate and offer competitive services.
  • Regulatory sandboxes: Creating designated environments where new technologies and business models can be tested and refined before entering the broader market, facilitating responsible innovation.
  • Industry collaboration: Working closely with remittance service providers and industry associations to develop effective self-regulation measures and ensure compliance with existing regulations.

4. Partnerships for Maximizing Positive Impact:

Challenge: Effectively channelling remittances towards development goals requires coordinated efforts from various stakeholders. Lack of communication and collaboration between government, private sector, and civil society can hinder the impact of initiatives.


  • Multi-stakeholder platforms: Establishing platforms where government, private sector, and civil society organizations can engage in dialogue, share expertise, and collaborate on developing initiatives that maximize the development impact of remittances.
  • Joint initiatives: Partnering on programs that link remittances to specific development projects, such as investing in education, healthcare, or infrastructure in receiving countries.
  • Knowledge sharing: Supporting knowledge exchange between diaspora communities, development organizations, and government agencies to ensure initiatives are informed by local needs and realities.

By addressing these challenges and leveraging the opportunities, Canadian government initiatives can play a crucial role in ensuring that international remittances contribute to financial inclusion, sustainable development, and positive change in both sending and receiving countries.

Final Words

We have now seen how the Canadian government actively supports international remittances through diverse policies and programs. They prioritize a safe and transparent environment with FINTRAC and consumer protection initiatives. Initiatives like ODA and diaspora engagement programs align with development goals in receiving countries, focusing on poverty reduction, financial inclusion, and empowerment.

These efforts benefit both sides in the sense that Canada benefits from strengthened diaspora ties, financial sector jobs, and contributions to development goals; while receiving countries see reduced poverty, improved livelihoods, financial inclusion, and gender equality.

Future directions include expanding digital services, formalizing informal channels, improving data analysis, and collaborating internationally. By adapting and innovating, Canada can ensure remittances remain a powerful tool for change.