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Imagine Canada

Strong Charities. Strong Communities.

Running up that (Parliament) Hill

Thursday, September 28, 2017
Public Policy

On October 17, sector leaders from across Canada will congregate in Ottawa for our third annual Day on the Hill. We’ll be fanning out across Parliament Hill to lobby MPs, Senators, senior officials, and cabinet ministers on issues that affect us all.

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

“Out of sight, out of mind.”

How many times have we all heard – and indeed used – these phrases? They may be clichés, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t true – especially when it comes to getting the attention of governments.

On October 17, more than 40 sector leaders from across Canada will gather in Ottawa for our third annual Charities’ Day on the Hill. Organizations representing environmental, health, faith, community development, immigrant settlement, arts, international development, Indigenous, and educational missions, as well as a number of umbrella organizations, will come together to promote the social and economic value of our sector and call on decision-makers to take actions to promote our common needs and agenda.

Public Policy with a Social Lens

One of Imagine Canada’s long-term strategic goals is for the federal government to adopt a “social lens” when policies are being developed. This doesn’t just mean individual policies tailored to meet social challenges, but a new way of thinking on the part of the government. For far too long, federal policies have been developed without consideration of what they mean for charities and nonprofits as organizations. Contrast this to the small business sector – entire departments are responsible for ensuring that policies don’t see the light of day until their impact on small businesses has been thoroughly analyzed.

A “social lens” also means recognizing the link between social and economic policy. Canadians want economic growth that is sustainable, equitable, and environmentally responsible. Our sector has vast expertise to share in economic discussions and on economic advisory panels, but governments do not yet consistently think to invite us to these. 

Social and Economic Impact

This year, we’ll be promoting action that would allow charities and nonprofits to increase their social and economic impact. As a starting point, we’ll use the government’s own commitments to legal and regulatory reform for the sector.

It’s been several months since the advisory panel on political activity made its recommendations to the federal government – recommendations that we strongly support. We’ll be urging the government to announce action not just on the items specific to political activity, but on the broader need for reform recognized by the panel. The government committed itself to such reform in a number of ministerial mandate letters; the 17th century legal framework that charities operate under does not lend itself to 21st century activities like social innovation, evidence-based policy-making, income generation, or public policy engagement.

Running up that Hill, Together

The idea of a Hill Day is not new. Organizations and associations representing a wide variety of interests and organizations have engaged in coordinated efforts on Parliament Hill for years, if not decades. Indeed, charities and nonprofits themselves have launched high-profile efforts to promote awareness and policies directly related to their missions.

What is fairly new is our ability and willingness to come together as a sector, to remind decision-makers about the things we have in common, and work together on common challenges. We’re building momentum – Hill Day this year will be more than twice as big as the first one in 2015. If we keep at it, the federal government will have no choice but to keep us in mind.

Follow and join in Charities’ Day activities on Twitter using the hashtag #weadvocate.

Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
Be running up that building

- Kate Bush

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