The Government of Canada delivers on its commitment to modernize the rules governing the charitable sector

News release

March 7, 2019             Ottawa, Ontario                      Canada Revenue Agency

Charities play a key role in our society and provide valuable services to Canadians, including the most vulnerable, and the Government of Canada recognizes the vast experience they bring to our public debate. Charities must have confidence that the government respects and encourages their contributions with rules enabling them to participate fully in the development of public policy.

Today, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, announced the nomination of Hilary Pearson and Bruce MacDonald as co-chairs of the newly created permanent Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector (ACCS). The ACCS will provide recommendations to the Minister of National Revenue and the Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency on important and emerging issues facing the sector.

The government implemented important legislative changes to the rules governing the political activities of charities in December 2018 to respond to many of the recommendations of the Report of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities. Today’s announcement marks the government’s final response to this report.

As stated in May 2017, this response lifts the suspension on the remaining audits and objections under the political activities program. The new rules on public policy dialogue and development activities, passed into law on December 13, 2018, will apply retroactively to the remaining audits and objections.


“The actions we have taken, in collaboration with the charitable sector, represent a significant milestone for the Government of Canada, and the new Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector will provide a forum to keep working together in the future. I would also like to thank the Consultation Panel members for their important work and insights, which have been instrumental to fulfilling my mandate and the government’s commitment to clarifying the rules that govern the political activities of charities.”

-The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue

“This permanent Advisory Committee will provide an ongoing and substantive dialogue with the federal government around the policy and regulatory issues that affect the effectiveness and sustainability of the charitable sector. I am excited about the opportunity to play a constructive role in shaping this dialogue, in consultation with other sector leaders.”

-Hilary Pearson, President & CEO, Philanthropic Foundations Canada

"The creation of a new Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector is an important step forward in continuing to evolve the operating environment for charities, non-profits and social entrepreneurs. Our organization is delighted to participate on the Advisory Committee and work with both charitable sector experts and government officials as the Committee builds an action plan for the future." 

-Bruce MacDonald, President & CEO, Imagine Canada

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada committed to clarifying the rules governing registered charities’ involvement in political activities. As part of this commitment, consultations with the public and the charitable sector were launched and the Consultation Panel was established in September 2016.

  • Online consultation on clarifying the rules governing charities’ political activities was held from September 27 to December 14, 2016.

  • The Report of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities was published in March 2017 and contained four recommendations, all of which the Government has responded to. 

  • On May 4, 2017, as an immediate first step to respond to the Panel’s recommendations, Minister Lebouthillier asked the CRA to suspend all action in relation to the remaining audits and objections that were part of the Political Activities Audit Program, initiated in 2012.

  • Ms. Pearson and Mr. MacDonald will join the CRA co-chair, Geoff Trueman, Assistant Commissioner of the Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs Branch and 12 other members who will be confirmed in the near future.

  • Ms. Pearson is the President of Philanthropic Foundations Canada, a national network of grant making organizations in Canada with 135 members, including many of the largest private charitable foundations in the country. Prior to joining PFC, Ms. Pearson held senior positions in central agencies of the Government of Canada, was Vice-President at Royal Bank of Canada, and a senior strategy consultant at the Montreal consulting firm Secor. An expert in non-profit governance, Ms. Pearson has served on several national non-profit boards of directors, including those of Pearson College of the Pacific, Imagine Canada, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada, CARE Canada, and Indspire. She holds a BA and MA from the University of Toronto, and honourary doctorates from Carleton University and the University of New Brunswick. She was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in July 2018.

  • Mr. MacDonald has worked in the charitable sector for over 30 years. He’s worked as CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, has led major change initiatives, and developed long and innovative partnerships with corporations and other charities. As President & CEO at Imagine Canada, he works with young people, older adults, sports and recreation, and community service clubs. Mr. MacDonald holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Sports Administration, a Masters in Management in the Voluntary Sector and is mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records.

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Émilie Gagnon
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of National Revenue

Media Relations
Canada Revenue Agency

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