Readout: Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector – April 8, 2020

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need for self-isolation not allowing for face-to-face meetings, the spring Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector (ACCS) meeting was held by teleconference on April 8, 2020. At this meeting, the ACCS members focused on the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the charitable sector.

The ACCS co-chairs, Mr. Geoff Trueman, Mr. Bruce MacDonald, and Ms. Hilary Pearson opened the meeting with some welcoming remarks. Mr. Trueman noted the importance of the ACCS as a consultative body during the COVID-19 crisis, and Mr. MacDonald and Ms. Pearson emphasized the huge impact of the crisis on charities across country.

The ACCS members welcomed the government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and its support to all Canadians, including the charitable sector, in the emergency measures and actions taken to date. The members then discussed the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the charitable sector.

Mr. Pierre LeBlanc, Director General of the Personal Income Tax Division at the Department of Finance Canada, provided an update on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Mr. Tony Manconi, Director General of the Charities Directorate, provided an update of the CRA actions taken on the COVID-19 crisis related to charities and the resumption of critical services.

ACCS members stressed that as a result of COVID-19, charities suffer from insufficient funding not only to survive, but also to meet the increasing needs and demands in service. They indicated this challenge is due to a number of factors, such as the decline in donations, absence of a stabilization fund, impacts on fundraising plans, and general lack of reserve funds in the sector.   

The members highlighted a number of other important issues, including:

Mr. Faizel Gulamhussein, Director of Policy from the Minister of National Revenue’s Office, attended the meeting and let the members know that the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier has expressed a keen interest in hearing from the ACCS about the challenges the charitable sector is facing.

Over the next few months, the ACCS will meet again over teleconference and discuss next steps, based on the evolving circumstances.

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