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Policy priority: Home in Government

Collage of charitable sector
Policy priority: The nonprofit sector needs a home in government

Charities and nonprofits have no federal entity responsible for the sector’s wellbeing or addressing systemic issues that impact it, despite being one of the three pillars of the Canadian economy.

Why it matters
Charities and nonprofits are a crucial part of Canada’s social fabric. However, a host of issues, ranging from inefficient and ineffective funding practices to regulations governing how charities can partner with non-charities, impact the sector systemically. Even as government after government counts on the health of the sector to deliver on many promises and programs, there is no entity in Government responsible for ensuring the well-being of charities and nonprofits as a sector. This benign neglect means that the full potential of charities and nonprofits has yet to be unleashed. 
Did you know?
  • The charitable and nonprofit sector contributes 8.5% to GDP - more than the fisheries sector (1.65%) or agriculture (6.7%). However, our sector is the only one of the three that does not have a home in government. 
  • Due to the lack of a home in government, nonprofits may be excluded from Government programs that could benefit them, such as programs that encourage innovation or environmentally-friendly business practices.
  • In times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of a home in government for our sector means that there is no unified policy response. Instead, we have to fight for inclusion in each individual relief measure or program. 
Our ask
We recommend that the federal government: 
  1. Facilitate and co-design an engagement process with the nonprofit sector that solicits feedback on the mandate, objectives, and resources needed for a Home in Government. Ensure the engagement process includes meaningful representation from equity-seeking, rural, remote and Northern communities. 
  2. Establish and adequately resource an entity to act as a Home in Government for the nonprofit sector in Budget 2024. Its mandate should: 
    • Formulate and review public policy and regulations across relevant departments to ensure they foster a strong, diverse and innovative nonprofit sector;
    • Ensure Statistics Canada collects and publishes data about the nonprofit sector to support evidence-informed policymaking;
    • Disseminate knowledge about the nonprofit sector within the federal government;
    • Coordinate and foster collaboration across government and nonprofits on issues affecting the sector; and
    • Address inequities within the nonprofit sector that fall within Federal jurisdiction. 
Examples from other jurisdictions
  • In Quebec, the Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity has a mandate to foster community action and volunteerism, guided by a Government policy on community action. The policy aims to promote and foster community action; to promote and foster the work of community organizations; to consolidate policies related to community action across the government to ensure consistency; and to recognize and support volunteerism in community organizations. 
  • The provincial government in British Columbia includes a Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development and Non-Profits. The Parliamentary Secretary is tasked with “work[ing] to support and engage charitable organizations and the nonprofit sector by acting as their advocate and key point of contact within government.”
  • The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is the country’s regulator of charities, but also has a role in promoting the sector. The ACNC was established to maintain, protect and enhance public trust and confidence in the Australian not-for-profit sector; support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative not-for-profit sector; and promote the reduction of unnecessary regulatory obligations on the sector. Australia’s Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance is responsible for the ACNC.
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