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Canada Special Senate Committee Releases Recommendations on Strengthening the Charitable Sector

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The Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector has released its report: Catalyst for Change: A Roadmap to a Stronger Charitable Sector.

Since January 2018, the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector, headed by Sens. Terry Mercer and Ratna Omidvar, has examined the laws and policies governing the sector in Canada. The committee held 24 public hearings where it heard from 160 witnesses, and members of AFP appeared before the committee on several occasions. It also received written briefs from more than 90 individuals and organizations, including AFP.


The report outlines 42 recommendations for the government to help our sector. AFP is pleased to see that three of our key public policy priorities are included in the report:

  • Recommendation 16: That the Government of Canada prioritize data about the charitable and non-profit sector in all Statistics Canada economic surveys, including the Satellite Account of Nonprofit Institutions and the General Social Survey on Giving, Volunteering and Participating; and that the Government of Canada support collaboration between Statistics Canada and the charitable and non-profit sector to determine what additional data could be collected and disseminated in a timely and consistent manner to support the evidence base for decisions by organizations in the sector.
  • Recommendation 22: That the Government of Canada, through the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, create a secretariat on the charitable and non-profit sector to:

    > establish and convene regular meetings of an interdepartmental working group, with representation from Finance Canada, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, the Canada Revenue Agency, Employment and Social Development Canada and other departments with direct connections to these organizations;

    > convene meetings of appropriate groups of federal/provincial and territorial ministers with responsibility for various aspects of regulating and relating to the charitable and non-profit sectors; and

    > publish an annual report on the state of the charitable and non-profit sector. This report should include changes related to the sector by federal, provincial and territorial governments along with a more general overview of the economic and social health of the sector.
  • Recommendation 34: That the Government of Canada, through the Canada Revenue Agency, develop, implement and evaluate a pilot project on the impact on the charitable sector of exempting donations of private shares from capital gains tax.
  • Recommendation 35: That the Government of Canada, through the Canada Revenue Agency, study the extent to which the donation of non-environmental real estate could be incentivized without undermining the Ecological Gifts Program.

AFP will be reviewing the report in more detail and providing an overview and response to the recommendations in the future.

“The report is incredibly comprehensive and ambitious, and many thanks go to Senators Mercer and Omidvar, who headed up the committee, along with many other Senators who participated in various hearings,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “They have put together an amazing report covering every aspect of the sector and philanthropy. Even if just a few of the recommendations are ultimately enacted, they could have a transformational effect on the sector. The report is a great foundation for the sector to begin in-depth discussions with government and other partners, and AFP is committed to pushing many of these recommendations forward.”

Members can download the report in English and French.


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