May 30th, 2022 (Ottawa) – Cooperation Canada, along with 70 Canadian humanitarian and international development organizations, urges the Government of Canada to amend the Budget Implementation Act (BIA) to reflect the spirit of Bill S-216, the Effective and Accountable Charities Act. Changes to Canada’s charity regime proposed in the BIA released in April 2022 accentuate colonial and paternalistic relationships between charities and the partners that support their charitable objectives, both in Canada and internationally.
Initially encouraged by Canada’s commitment in the 2022 federal budget to implement the spirit of Bill S-216, many Canadian charities are disappointed with what is proposed in the BIA.
“Canada’s charity regime is outdated, colonial and patriarchal. It needs to change so charities can better support the organizations and movements responding to conflict and crisis, fighting for justice and human rights and investing in sustainable development around the world. We want to shift power and resources to the communities at the forefront of driving change, and need a charity regime that supports this”, explains Kate Higgins, Cooperation Canada’s CEO. “We welcome the government’s openness to dialogue to address our concerns”, added Higgins.
Charities are concerned about integrity and want to preserve public trust. They are committed to the utmost accountability. But signatories to this letter are concerned that the BIA will make it more difficult for organizations to achieve their charitable purposes by inserting into the legislation a rigid and prescriptive approach to funding non-charities. The new rules proposed in the BIA allowing charities to make ‘qualifying disbursements’ or grants to non-qualified donees make the system more confusing, risky and difficult for registered charities and non-charities to work together and, as a result, may prevent philanthropic and charitable resources from flowing to the communities that need them most.
Cooperation Canada called on its civil society partners to sign an open letter calling on the Government of Canada to make immediate changes to the BIA. The changes proposed in the letter would increase the opportunities for partnerships between equity-seeking organizations and Canadian charities here in Canada and around the world, placing more resources in the hands of local partners so charitable funds can have the greatest possible impact.
“We need to fix the Budget Implementation Act and modernize Canada’s charity regime so we can unlock more resources and localize and decolonize our work with communities in Canada and around the globe”, said Carelle Mang-Benza, Cooperation Canada’s Policy Lead.
About Cooperation Canada
Cooperation Canada brings together Canada’s international development and humanitarian organizations and advocates for them by convening sector leaders, influencing policy and building capacity. Together, we work with partners both inside and outside Canada to build a world that’s fair, safe and sustainable for all.