The House of Commons Finance Committee has just launched its consultations for the 2017 federal budget.
Each year, the Committee invites anyone who is interested – individuals and organizations – to submit their thoughts and recommendations as to what the federal government’s financial priorities should be.
The deadline for submissions to the Committee is August 5, 2016. Submissions can be made electronically, and they do not have to be long or detailed – there is a limit of 2000 words, no matter who you are. For information on making a submission, see the Finance Committee website.
Opportunity for charities and nonprofits
As charities and nonprofits, you are on the frontline. You see the impact of existing government policies on people, communities, and the environment. You also see emerging issues and challenges for which there isn’t yet a policy.
How often have you been going about your daily business and thought, “If only the government would do this?” The Finance Committee’s consultations are a chance to take your experiences, your challenges – and most importantly – your recommended solutions directly to decision-makers.
While all Canadians are invited to make submissions to the Committee, on average each year, only about 500 organizations and individuals do so. This is a real lost opportunity. With so few getting involved in the process, there’s a chance to stand out from the crowd.
How the Submission Process Works
Every written submission to the Committee is read by research staff and Committee members, is shared publicly by the Committee, and forms part of the official record. The Committee’s report summarizes submissions and testimony, and often has significant influence on the budget itself.
As well as the written submissions, the Committee holds hearings – mostly in Ottawa but often in communities across the country – to hear directly from organizations and individuals. This gives witnesses a chance to make their case to influential elected officials and to respond to questions they may have about your ideas. If the Committee invites you to testify, they’ll cover travel and accommodation costs. All it costs you is the time to appear.
This is worth your time and attention
We’re all pressed for time and there aren’t any guarantees that your submission will be considered. However, the last time the Committee invited submissions, charities and nonprofits made recommendations in areas as diverse as environmental assessment processes, missing and murdered Indigenous women, youth employment, postsecondary infrastructure, international assistance funding, funding for arts and culture, and child benefits and family support. Many of these found their way into the Committee’s recommendations, and were acted on (in some way, shape, or form) in the 2016 federal budget.
When we draw a line from charities’ and nonprofits’ submissions and testimony, to the Finance Committee report, to the federal budget, we can see an influence and results. The results may not be exactly what organizations were looking for, but by taking advantage of the process, they’ve advanced their causes significantly.
Imagine Canada will make a submission for consideration and it is our hope that you will do the same.