Imagine Canada

Strong Charities. Strong Communities.

Chief Economist for Canada’s Charitable and Nonprofit Sector

Charities and nonprofits are an important part of the economy. The Chief Economist for Canada’s Charitable and Nonprofit Sector is responsible for measuring the impact of the sector and bringing its economic issues forward to public policy decision makers.

The sector is important in terms of its contribution to economic activity and jobs. In Canada, more than 170,000 organizations work in areas ranging from healthcare to sports, the arts, social services, education, international development and the environment. The charitable and nonprofit sector represents 8.1% of Canada’s GDP and 10.5% of the labour force.

Discussion Paper

Charities, Sustainable Funding and Smart Growth

Released: October 2016

Through a series of scenarios that project the state of the charitable and nonprofit sector in 2026, chief economist Brian Emmett identifies a looming social deficit.


  • The nature and evolution of the charitable and nonprofit sector
  • Why the charitable and nonprofit sector has grown so rapidly
  • Performance of the economy and how it has supported revenue growth of benefit to the sector
  • State of the sector in 2026 based on eight scenarios considering:
    • the status quo
    • demographic and social changes increase demand on sector services
    • slower economic growth
    • potential government policies to stimulate growth
    • negative consequences of economic growth
    • decline in individual household donations
    • effects of increased regulations on charity revenue sources
    • increasing demands on the sector and lower economic growth
  • How smart growth initiatives can mitigate a social deficit

Download the discussion paper (PDF)

In February 2013, Brian Emmett joined Imagine Canada in the unique role of the Chief Economist for Canada’s Charitable and Nonprofit Sector. Read more.

The office of the Chief Economist for Canada’s Charitable and Nonprofit Sector is made possible through funding received by the Bank of Montreal, The Counselling Foundation of Canada, The Muttart Foundation, and an anonymous donor.

Our National Partners

  • great west life
  • Lawson Foundation
  • Muttart Foundation
  • RBC Foundation
  • Suncor
  • TD Bank
  • investors group

Learn more about our National Partners and other supporters.

Charitable Registration Number: 119218790 RR0001