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Bureaucrat with finance expertise appointed to lead foreign aid agency

A doctor advises the mother of a newborn diagnosed with a chest infection at the Kisesa Health Centre, supported by CIDA through the Health Basket Fund, in Magu District, Mwanza, Tanzania.

Joshua Kraemer/© ACDI-CIDA/ Joshua Kraemer

A long-time public servant with expertise in finance will lead Canada's international development agency as its work is merged with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Paul Rochon, currently an associate deputy minister of health, will become the deputy minister for international development under the new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. The government announced this year that it would merge Canada's international development work with Foreign Affairs, saying the move would improve foreign policy coherence.

Mr. Rochon's appointment was announced on Friday and will take effect July 8.

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He replaces Margaret Biggs, who was appointed president of the Canadian International Development Agency in 2008. Ms. Biggs will move to a temporary role as a senior adviser to the Privy Council Office, where she worked before her CIDA appointment. She also worked as a researcher with the North-South Institute, a non-governmental organization focused on international development issues, early in her career.

CIDA's executive structure has long given the agency a degree of independence that other departments did not have. But people familiar with the office say Ms. Biggs had less autonomy during her term, as the Prime Minister's Office became more closely involved in decisions.

In addition to his job with Health Canada, Mr. Rochon is currently a special adviser to the Minister of Finance on negotiations for a Canadian securities regulator. He has previously worked as an associate deputy minister of finance and led Canada's negotiations at Group of 20 finance ministers' meetings before moving to Health Canada.

The legislation to move CIDA's functions to Foreign Affairs was contained in the government's budget implementation bill, which passed this week.

Under the new arrangement, International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino will continue to be responsible for most of Canada's development assistance work. His core job in the new department will be to "foster sustainable international development and poverty reduction in developing countries and provide humanitarian assistance during crises."

He will also be expected to forge links with other countries and development organizations and ensure that Canada's work is "in line with Canadian values and priorities."

In an e-mailed statement, Mr. Fantino said Ms. Biggs's "personal commitment to seeing those living in poverty around the world prosper" left a lasting impression on him.

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