Readout: Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector – May 28, 2020
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need for self-isolation not allowing for face-to-face meetings, the Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector (ACCS) met by teleconference on May 28, 2020. At this meeting, the ACCS members focused on the continued impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the charitable sector.
The ACCS co-chairs, Mr. Bruce MacDonald, Ms. Hilary Pearson, and Mr. Geoff Trueman, opened the meeting with some welcoming remarks. Mr. Trueman outlined that the Canada Revenue Agency, like many organizations, will be reviewing how we work and how work might be done in the future. He emphasized that this is a good opportunity for the ACCS to prioritize the issues they focus on and provide feedback to ensure efficient interactions with the sector. Mr. MacDonald and Ms. Pearson emphasized that the impacts on charities across the country as a result of the pandemic are deepening.
The ACCS members welcomed the opportunity to connect and discuss the continued economic consequences related to COVID-19 on the charitable sector.
Mr. Pierre LeBlanc, Director General of the Personal Income Tax Division at the Department of Finance Canada, reminded members that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy has been extended for three months. Mr. Tony Manconi, Director General of the Charities Directorate, assured the members that the Charities Directorate, including the call centre, is operational, and is there to support the sector. He also reminded the members that the filing deadlines for charities have been extended to December 31, 2020 and that audit activities have paused.
ACCS members discussed that as a result of the continued impacts of COVID-19, charities continue to face several significant challenges, which include:
- an urgent need for funding;
- the complexity of the rules governing charities’ work with non-charities;
- volunteer safety; and
- increased demands on the charitable sector to support communities during these difficult times.
They also indicated that the committee needs to consider how the landscape will change for the sector following this pandemic. They discussed encouraging charities to think differently, and what administrative barriers there may be to this in the future, as well as the importance of investing in technological infrastructure.
Mr. Gabriel Bourget, Special Assistant from the Minister of National Revenue’s Office, attended the meeting and thanked the members on behalf of the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier for their continued work to identify the challenges the charitable sector is facing.
The ACCS will meet again virtually in June to discuss next steps and priorities that the committee will focus on.
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