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Harper Government Congratulates Rotarians on Efforts to Eradicate Polio

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 03/02/13 -- The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, today congratulated Rotarians at the Rotarians for Peace Symposium for their leadership in the global fight against polio. Minister Fantino reiterated Canada's commitment to match, dollar for dollar, all contributions raised by Rotarians by March 1, 2013, under the 'Pennies and More for Polio' initiative.

"Canada applauds the successful efforts of Rotarians in Canada in collecting funds for combating this devastating disease," said Minister Fantino. "We also thank Canadians for their generosity and are pleased that Canada will match $2 million in contributions raised by Rotarians in support of eradicating polio."

Last week, Minister Fantino announced that the Harper Government would match all contributions raised by Rotarians by March 1, 2013 in support of eradicating polio. Canada had originally capped the total amount at $1 million. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has also agreed to match all contributions, dollar for dollar.

"Canadian Rotarians are encouraged by the support from the Canadian Government over many years and in particular with the recent effort to raise matching funds well beyond the target of one million dollars, the excess also to be matched by the government," said Dr. Robert Scott, Chair, Rotary International PolioPlus Committee. "The eradication of polio, with this and future cooperation, will more quickly become a reality."

In October 2011, Prime Minister Harper reaffirmed Canada's support for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which builds on Canada'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 yet preventable disease."

Since 1988, Canada and its partners have supported the immunization of hundreds of millions of children and eradicated the polio virus from almost every country on earth. Canada is committed to helping completely eradicate this disease in the few pockets where it still remains.

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