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On June 20, the Senate of Canada’s Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector released its report on Canada’s nonprofit and charitable sector - A Roadmap to a Stronger Charitable Sector.

 

Executive Summary

Full Report

 

What does the report cover?

The report includes 42 recommendations that touch on the people who work and volunteer in the sector, how the sector receives money, and how it is regulated. It is a culmination of Canada-wide survey results, witness testimonies, and written submissions.  
 

ONN’s executive director Cathy Taylor and policy advisor Lynn Eakin provided witness testimony to the Special Senate Committee, sharing the voices of the sector and what ONN has been working on. Many of our network members in the Ontario nonprofit sector also testified.
 

The report takes into account and cites ONN’s public policy work on:

  • the importance of decent work

  • the current funding climate

  • lack of data on the sector

  • earned income possibilities for nonprofits, and

  • legally distinguishing between public benefit nonprofits and those that primarily serve their members in the sector (“mutual benefit nonprofits”).

 

Spearheaded by senators; strong steps forward for the sector

Thank you to the Special Senate committee for their commitment to listening to our sector and producing a report that reflects current challenges and ways in which to navigate them. As noted by the senators, this report is a valuable map that can shape federal priorities for the nonprofit and charitable sector.
 

We especially welcome the following recommendations that speak to ONN’s policy priorities:

 

Our People

  • A human resources renewal plan for the sector be developed and implemented (Recommendation 6).

  • The Human Resources Council or a similar body for the sector be reinstated (Recommendation 7).

  • Intergovernmental cooperation to promote pension plans for nonprofit workers that are portable across provinces and territories (Recommendation 5).

 

Our Financing

  • The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat develop policies that require departments and agencies to compensate the full cost of delivering services to nonprofits and charities through grants and contributions, that reporting should be proportionate to funding amounts, and that agreements cover a minimum of two years (Recommendation 10).

  • The Government of Canada should extend a level playing field of support to nonprofit enterprises compared to what they provide to for-profit corporations, particularly with respect to overhead and infrastructure costs (Recommendation 11).

 

Our Regulations

  • A secretariat on the charitable and non-profit sector be established in the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development with the responsibility for publishing annual reports on the state of the sector across federal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions (Recommendation 22).

  • The Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector include a wide range of organizations in its working groups, such as smaller organizations, organizations in rural and remote communities, organizations representing and serving newcomers to Canada, and organizations supporting and serving Indigenous communities (Recommendation 21).

  • The Government of Canada remove barriers to participation by nonprofits and charities in its procurement processes (Recommendation 15).

  • Nonprofit sector data be collected and prioritized in Statistics Canada surveys. The Government of Canada will support collaboration between the sector and Statistics Canada for additional data collection and dissemination. The Canada Revenue Agency will publicly share data from the T1044 Non-Profit Organization Information Return (Recommendations 16 & 39).

  • The Government of Canada, through the Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector, review the common law meaning of charity to determine whether Canada should follow the approach of other jurisdictions, such as Australia and England, and enact legislation to broaden the legal meaning of charity. Also that assistance be provided to organizations that have had their application for registered charity status refused or revoked (Recommendations 24 & 25).  

  • Revise the interpretation of rules concerning nonprofits’ related businesses and earning surplus income (“profits”) to reinvest in their organizations so that the application of these rules reflects the language of the Income Tax Act, which focuses on the purposes of the organization (Recommendations 29 & 38).

  • Review the treatment and regulation of non-profit organizations, including whether the Income Tax Act should distinguish between public benefit and member benefit non-profit organizations (Recommendation 40).

  • Review the impact of Canada’s anti-spam legislation on charities and nonprofits (Recommendation 41).

 

What does this mean for the sector?

The recommendations urge key actors across the Government of Canada, most notably the Canada Revenue Agency and the Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector, to enact these recommendations. The Special Senate Committee also emphasized the importance for nonprofits and charities to not only work with these key actors, but also with each other to ensure the recommendations are realized.
 

These recommendations support the sector by strengthening essential pieces of our infrastructure so we are better equipped to support our communities.

 

What can you do?

Let’s advocate together to ensure that these recommendations are part of political party platforms, and are top of mind for the next four years, as we move into the federal election.

Use ONN’s public policy and other resources, to connect with your local Member of Parliament, collaborate with other nonprofits, and speak to your communities.
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