Bill S-203 (Historical)
National Philanthropy Day Act
An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.
Second Reading and Referral to Committee
(This bill did not become law.)
February 7th, 2011 / 4:45 p.m.
The Chair Michael Chong
We're back in public session.
Before we go on to the consideration of two motions, I just want to bring two items to committee members' attention. The first item I want to bring to your attention is that a bill has come to us from the House. It's Bill S-203, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day. It is sponsored by Mr. Warkentin, and we, as a committee, have to deal with it by May 31. So we have quite a bit of time, and if needed, we can always seek an extension. That's the first item I want to bring to members' attention.
The second item is that four orders in council have been given to us for four appointments. There are two appointments to the board of trustees of the Canadian Museum of Immigration; one appointment to the board of trustees of the Canadian Museum of Nature; and the reappointment of Kevin MacLeod as Canadian secretary to the Queen.
If members of the committee wish to review any of these four appointments, let the chair know and we'll figure out when we'll call those witnesses.
Those are the two points of information I draw to your attention.
We'll now go to the consideration of the notice of motion from Mr. Angus.
Mr. Angus, would you care to move your motion?
National Philanthropy Day Act
Private Members' Business
February 1st, 2011 / 6:15 p.m.
Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to support Bill S-203, sponsored by the member for Peace River. I note that this bill has had a torturous route from the beginnings in the Senate. It was introduced as Bill S-217, then Bill S-210, then Bill S-204 and then Bill S-46, all introduced since October of 2004 by Senator Jerry Grafstein. Therefore, it should be an inspiration to all of us that if we embark on a good idea and a good bill, it might take six years and we might not even be around by the time it ends up passing through the House. However, we should not give up hope because there is proof that patience is a virtue and this bill will make it through after all these iterations and all these years.
The bill is very straightforward. It is only a page long. There were some excellent speeches today indicating a number of different forms philanthropy can take in our society. We tend to think of the rich people who get their names in the paper donating millions of dollars and we do not necessarily think of all the volunteer work that is done and has been dealt with and covered rather well in the speeches in the House this hour today and the hour before.
I want to make note of a constituent of mine who grew up in my constituency, one Clara Hughes, whom we see on national television every night in ads for depression. She is a six-time medal holder in both summer and winter Olympics, and I think she is the only athlete in that class. However, at an earlier point in time she donated 100% of her entire winnings from the Olympics, which was only $10,000, to the Right to Play organization doing work in Africa. That speaks volumes to her dedication to charity. Also, her mother, Maureen Hughes, and Dodie Lester are also still constituents of mine. I want to give Clara credit, and I have wanted to for a long time now, for her very thoughtful donation to Right to Play.
Also, the role of Habitat for Humanity was mentioned by one of the other members. It plays an important role in my community as well. In fact, it has just developed a very large development of houses for people.
The member for Edmonton—Strathcona indicated that while $10 billion was raised in charitable donations in Canada in 2007, donations dropped off substantially during the recession to the tune of perhaps $1 billion. That is very serious in any sort of activity. A $1 billion drop is a 10% drop in a recession, which is very serious.
A number of years ago, probably in the 1970s, there was recognition that somehow governments should expand their involvement and their role in social services and that people should not have to rely on the good will of churches and charitable organizations.
Manitoba expanded social services greatly under the Schreyer government in 1969 to 1977. There was this feeling that charities had somehow outlived their usefulness, that it was the state's responsibility to provide for the social good of its citizens. However, over time there is a recognition that no matter how many programs the state developed, no matter how much money it spent, the needs were still there. In fact, charities actually expanded their role, both in numbers and involvement, over those years. Therefore, there is no possible way we could fulfill all of the demands and needs in society without charitable giving.
I definitely want to talk about something I see is very positive, and that is the move by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to commit half of their fortunes to charities and have it be given away while they are still alive.
I have read a number of articles on this topic. It was initiated by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. They have called fellow billionaires together in the United States and coaxed them, cajoled them and shamed them into joining their group. They have done quite well. They have a huge number. I do not know what percentage of billionaires in the states are members of this organization, but it is expanding. The organization is gaining converts every day. It holds private parties to get people involved. It is not without a certain amount of uncertainty because there are disagreements among families, among spouses and it is actively working to pull these people together. It will be a tremendous help because the Gates Foundation and Buffett Foundation are doing tremendous work in Africa on AIDS. Those two have shown some very positive direction.
There are others as well. I believe Mr. Zuckerberg has recently donated $100 million to the state of New Jersey for education. Ted Turner has donated $1 billion.
People who have made a lot of money over the years recognize they will not take it with them. Warren Buffett is a great example. I had the experience of driving by his house in Omaha about a year and a half ago. He is a regular guy. The local folks know him very well. He has no address on his house, by the way. However, he has concluded that his children do not need the $50 billion. He said that he would take care of his children, maybe a few million here and there, but that is it. He has said that it is time for him to take his billions and make the commitment while he is still alive rather than have people deal with his estate after he is gone. It is groundbreaking that he is prepared to do that. This man does not live the lavish lifestyle by any means. He still has the same wife for 40 years. His income is $100,000 a year. He works in the same office. He is just a regular person.
This is the type of direction and leadership that we should be promoting. I would like to know where the Canadian billionaires are. In the first hours of debate I asked the member for Peace River if people were approaching Canadian billionaires about involving themselves. Maybe Warren Buffett will come across the border and make his approach to them and get them involved.
Warren Buffett started something and we should encourage it and try to get as much movement in this as possible. It only takes one or two people to get the ball rolling. The worst thing that can happen is it gets bogged down and comes to a standstill. Anything the government can do to encourage Canadian billionaires to do the same thing would be positive.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been involved with the Manitoba government over the last several years on a number of different projects. The Gates are certainly approachable. They are not hard to get hold of. Nor is it hard to deal with them. I would encourage the government to do more than just pass bills, which is good, but we should be a little more proactive in encouraging our Canadian billionaires to follow the lead of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates in the United States.
National Philanthropy Day Act
Private Members' Business
February 1st, 2011 / 6:05 p.m.
Earl Dreeshen Red Deer, AB
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak today to Bill S-203, which seeks to declare, through legislation, that each and every November 15 be known in Canada as National Philanthropy Day.
The proposal goes to the root of what philanthropy is today and how it impacts the lives of Canadians, both those who are philanthropic and those who benefit from it.
Our notion of philanthropy has evolved as Canada has evolved, reflecting good times and bad. Today it is a concept that is deeply ingrained in the very nature of who we are as a nation.
In the English language, we date the word “philanthropy” to the early 1600s when it was coined from the Greek philanthropos meaning love for mankind. Early usage of the word related to the concept of altruistic concern for human welfare. Over time we came to think of how philanthropy manifested itself in society, usually related to large donations of money, property, voluntary labour to good causes or of individuals providing direct help to others.
From the North American perspective, we especially think of philanthropy as it relates to the endowment of major institutions, universities, hospitals and libraries. Indeed the word “philanthropist” often conjures images of the early giants of industry like Andrew Carnegie or Alexander Graham Bell. In fact, in Canada's early years as a nation, the concept of philanthropy was almost always connected to religious organizations.
Prior to the onset of the Great Depression, most charitable works in Canada flowed through the church. The stock market crash changed all of that.
In the 1930s we saw the rise of service clubs and community-based organizations that channelled donations and volunteer hours to help those less fortunate, or to raise money and increase awareness around specific causes. Prime among these was Community Chest, which had its roots in church charities but later evolved into the United Way of Canada. The United Way plays a critical role in helping us understand the philosophy of community leadership and building through targeted giving.
Today, in a very real way, we have returned to the original 17th century interpretation of philanthropy. It has spread deeply into the core of who we are as Canadians and it truly expresses a love for mankind.
Other early philanthropic actions established institutions such as Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, founded in 1875 in response to Elizabeth McMaster's concern over the high death rate among the city's children.
In 1909, in accordance with the Geneva Convention, the Canadian Red Cross Society Act was established. Since then, the Canadian Red Cross has improved the living conditions of some of the most vulnerable people in Canada and around the world.
Numerous examples of other well-established institutions can be named to reflect the tremendous historic contribution of the philanthropic sector such as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind established in 1918.
More recent generosity has been responsible for fuelling modern research into illnesses like tuberculosis, heart disease, cancer and HIV-AIDS and for raising awareness of the need for this funding.
On a local level I am proud to represent Red Deer, which is a very giving community. Central Albertans take pride in giving countless hours and donating their hard-earned money to the causes they believe in. The Red Deer & District Community Foundation is a great example of how local philanthropy can have a profound effect on a community. It started as a gesture of generosity from one individual but is now a community institution. It is a steward of donors' gifts and can serve donors beyond their lifetime. It is also a locally based grant maker providing much needed resources to charitable organizations in central Alberta.
Red Deer is also home to Jack and Joan Donald, co-founders of the Parkland Income Fund. They are well known in our community for their generous spirit. The Donald School of Business at Red Deer College was recently named in recognition of their contribution. Their commitment to central Alberta was recognized in 2005 with a generosity of spirit award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. They have also both individually been named as Red Deer citizens of the year.
As a former teacher, I am also proud of how literacy campaigns and public education programs have benefited from a groundswell of volunteerism. Thousands of Canadians benefit from different literacy programs across Canada. LEARN was Canada's first national literacy campaign. More recently Raise a Reader has raised $12.7 million across Canada since 2002.
Just how broad philanthropy's reach has become is addressed in a research document produced by Imagine Canada, a leading organization among Canada's charities and non-profit organizations. Its research paints a picture of philanthropy in Canada that touches different facets of our lives. The study depicts meaningful success stories in the areas of amateur sports, education, the environment and international development, as well as health care, hospitals and population-specific health issues.
Experts point to the role that philanthropy has played in helping to fulfill our national concept of multiculturalism. Many newcomers to Canada are encouraged and given tangible help through volunteerism. The research cited some specific examples of the outpouring of assistance provided to the so-called “boat people” of Vietnam. So great was Canada's support for these 34,000 refugees that the country received the prestigious Nansen Medal for humanitarianism.
One inspiring act of Canadian altruism and philanthropy dates back to 1921 when Sir Frederick Grant Banting worked a miracle in a University of Toronto laboratory. As there were no research grants for medicine at the time, Banting sold his own car to finance his ground-breaking research, which led to the discovery of insulin. Beyond that initial donation, Banting also gave up any income he would have received from his discovery by selling the rights to insulin for one dollar in order to ensure that the drug would be affordable to those who needed it. This is a truly inspiring tale of philanthropy.
Looking across the scope and breadth of philanthropy in Canada, experts note that philanthropy goes beyond donating money and includes gifts of time and spirit. I especially like the sentiment that philanthropy is about what is in our heart and our spirit, not about what is in our bank account.
Contemporary philanthropy is as much about innovation and vision as it is having the good fortune of having deep pockets and the spirit to give generously. The ability to take risks and make long-term commitments to causes that are not necessarily popular or in fashion is recognized as the mark of a modern philanthropist.
As we look at the good work done by people across Canada and across our history, it is interesting to consider what moves us to philanthropic gestures, what makes us give of our time, our hard-earned money or the sweat of our brow for the future that we believe we can make a little brighter.
Some of us are motivated by individual situations. We may be sitting at home watching the news on television and be touched by a famine, flood or earthquake. It may be something happening now, perhaps on the other side of the world to people whom we have never met, may never meet, that sometimes touches us and moves us to action. We reach for our cheque book or the telephone. We are engaged and it moves us to action. For that moment, however long, we are philanthropists. Tomorrow may see us return to life as before, but we have acted today and may act again when another event touches us in that way.
For others, philanthropy is a regular habit, part of their lives and intertwined with some activity or some organization that makes community giving a part of their raison d'être.
As we look across the country, we realize that philanthropy has many faces. It shows itself in grand gestures and in small intimate ways. It is both personal and collective, both public and very private. That brings us to the question of how we recognize these many and varied contributions of time, money and energy.
I admire the aims of this proposed legislation and ask members to join me in supporting November 15 as National Philanthropy Day. Let us celebrate and support the actions of so many Canadians who have given so much to so many.
National Philanthropy Day Act
Private Members' Business
February 1st, 2011 / 5:55 p.m.
Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB
Mr. Speaker, as with my other colleagues in the House I am rising in support of Bill S-203, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day.
I am sure all my colleagues in the House share my support for the sentiments set forth in the preamble to the bill to recognize the Canadian spirit of giving and volunteerism.
Volunteerism builds strong communities. Encouraging and rewarding civic participation is important. We need to ensure that the incentives are fair and effective though for voluntary participation. Considerable time and energy is gifted daily by ordinary Canadians but not just to registered charities.
Let me share with the House a study conducted jointly by a number of government agencies, Statistics Canada and Volunteer Canada. The study was called Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating in 2007. The study found that almost 23 million Canadians, or 84% of the population aged 15 and over, made a financial donation to a charitable or non-profit organization in that year. During that same time, 12.5 million Canadians, or 46% of the population, volunteered their time through a group or organization.
Sad to say a more recent study has shown that since 2007 the donations by Canadians has dropped to 23% of the population. Apparently in 2007 Canadians donated a total of $10 billion, yet since 2007 a more recent study shows that the figure has dropped by $1 billion. It shows a concern in the populace. It shows that people are suffering in the economic recession but still being as generous as they possibly can.
Canadians volunteer to flood and clear community rinks, to coach children's soccer and hockey. Individuals freely volunteer their time fundraising for community facilities, for sports programs, for outings for the disabled and the elderly, for food banks, for breast cancer, multiple sclerosis, cancer treatments and support, and organizations such as Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign in Africa
There is a broad array of organizations supporting work and a broad array of Canadians giving their voluntary time and effort to support those who may be suffering or struggling, both in this country and abroad, and that is to be commended.
I am proud of my constituency of Edmonton--Strathcona's countless volunteer hours donated to deliver programs and to maintain community league facilities and programs. This is something unique about Alberta. We have for many decades had communities maintaining community leagues for the service of the children and families in the neighbourhoods. To their credit, volunteers with numerous community leagues have tackled fundraising and hands-on efforts to make their facilities more energy efficient and accessible.
Countless hours are donated by literally thousands of volunteers in my riding to deliver successful festivals such as the Edmonton Fringe Theatre Festival and the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. The Silver Skate Festival, which is coming up soon and I welcome members to come to that activity, and the Ice on Whyte Festival, both festivals to try to make our winters liveable.
Philanthropy includes both the gifts of money or work for the benefit of others. There are numerous local, regional and national awards recognizing these philanthropic acts.
Just this past year, many members may have participated. CBC ran a competition to recognize and profile Canadian volunteer efforts at home and abroad. We can be very proud of the individuals who were focused in that program, both the ones that ultimately won and the ones who were showcased and nominated.
In Alberta, non-government organizations, including small groups and youth groups, are yearly honoured for their work for the environment by Emerald Awards. Among the highest accolades in this country are the Governor General Order of Canada Awards.
Rather than just a designated day however we should be taking concrete actions to encourage and reward these important contributions to society. As I noted earlier, unfortunately the amount of money donated and the time and effort put into volunteering is declining in the country for a variety of reasons. These kinds of efforts are critical, particularly in hard economic times and particularly when a lot of programs are being downloaded to municipalities and onward to volunteer organizations.
A number of proposals have been tabled recommending expanded tax credits, including donations in kind for services, materials or property. These donations are important and consideration should be given to recognizing, rewarding and encouraging this kind of generosity.
Those with charitable status obviously have a clear advantage over other volunteer organizations in raising funds. As it has become increasingly difficult to obtain this status, consideration should be given to offering other measures to reward donors to non-profit organizations that do not have the charitable status.
This is particularly critical as an increasing number of community services are being downloaded to volunteer groups. Concerns were raised this week in the House about cuts to federal support to small organizations helping immigrants. Last fall we heard continued pleas to restore federal support to aboriginal healing centres. Both of these organizations depend on a lot of volunteer effort but require basic resources to maintain and run their programs, to coordinate volunteers and to deliver those services.
In closing, it is important to keep front of mind that the majority who donate their time and resources to causes that are important to them do so out of an interest in helping those in need. They are not doing it to seek a tax deduction or any form of reward.
It is noteworthy that a recent study, and I notice that a colleague across the way mentioned this as well, shows increasingly it is Canadians with lower incomes who are donating more. As we look to the cutting of corporate taxes, perhaps we should be looking to corporations to make larger donations to the causes that many Canadians feel it is important to contribute to.
I support the passage of this bill intended to recognize the contribution by volunteering Canadians. However we can and must do more to incent and recognize this contribution to our economy, to safe, liveable communities and to quality of life for all Canadians.
National Philanthropy Day Act
Private Members' Business
February 1st, 2011 / 5:50 p.m.
Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address Bill S-203, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day.
It was very encouraging to hear speeches from my hon. colleagues from across the way. It appears that everyone in the House supports the spirit in which this bill was introduced and supports the bill.
In today's society, we need the efforts of all Canadians, businesses, governments and individuals, in order to build a Canada that we want and to foster the values that Canadians hold dear. Canada would not be the country it is today without the efforts of millions of Canadians who, by their generosity and selflessness, have helped to build our country's reputation as a caring, giving nation on the world stage. For those reasons, I support Bill S-203.
As some members of Parliament know, the idea of a national philanthropy day is one that has been circulating for quite some time. It first appeared in 1986. The U.S. president at the time, Ronald Reagan, actually issued a proclamation to recognize the day. However, it should be noted that the day has never been formally recognized by the U.S. Congress. In fact, no other government has permanently recognized this day.
This is the time for our government to officially recognize the merits of such a day for the very people who work so tirelessly and selflessly to reach out to help those in need day after day.
According to the 2007 Canada survey of giving, volunteering and participating, Canadians are very generous. Over 23 million Canadians made a monetary donation to charitable and non-profit organizations in the preceding year. Just as an example, 84% of Canadians aged 15 and over made combined donations of $10 billion. This represents an average gift of $437 per person, an increase of 12% over the 2004 survey.
The generosity of Canadians is found across the age ranges. In 2007, those aged 15 to 24 donated an average of $142 per person. It is so heartening to think that despite the fact that some of these young people are just starting out in life, they still find the means to give to their fellow citizens.
The average amount donated does increase with age until it reaches a high of $611 per person for those aged 65 and over. That is heartening as well to see seniors, who sometimes are also in difficult situations, donating and giving so generously.
Generosity is evident across all income groups. Although in 2007 Canadians with a higher household income had the highest average donation of $686 per person, it is interesting to note that those Canadians with annual household incomes of less than $20,000 gave the highest percentage of their household income.
I am very proud to say that in December it was reported by the Fraser Institute that for the 12th year in a row Manitoba was once again ranked as Canada's most generous province. Manitoba led all provinces with the highest percentage of total income donated to registered charities.
Manitoba leads the country in part to people like businessman John Buhler, an extremely generous individual who lived down the street from me in Morden, Manitoba where I grew up. John and his wife, Bonnie, regularly donate large amounts of money to a wide variety of community organizations, including health care projects, educational institutions and museums and centres associated with human rights. John Buhler and the donations that he has made have been instrumental in contributing to the growth and prosperity of Manitoba.
I am also very proud to say that Winkler, which is the city in which I now live and which I am very proud to represent, is home to the second largest group of charitable donors in the entire country. That is a great honour for a group of people who are extremely generous and continually give of their time and finances.
The generosity of Canadians is also expressed in time, with billions of hours donated to causes in which Canadians believe. By contributing their skills and experience, these generous Canadians are also learning new skills and increasing their knowledge.
In 2007, 46% of Canadians aged 15 and over volunteered to an organization and 84% provided direct help to others outside of their home, sometimes just by helping their friend or neighbour or someone in need.
Canadians are extremely generous people. Our citizens have shown their generosity time and again in many ways. In every community, Canadians help those in need. They help their neighbours by setting up a trust fund for families who have lost their house in a fire. They help Canadians in other provinces when floods have taken away their homes or livelihood. They help people across the world in times of disaster or famine, as reflected in the outpouring of support following the recent earthquake in Haiti, as well as Chile.
A legislated national philanthropy day will officially recognize the efforts and selflessness of these Canadians. It will magnify the importance of special events already organized by entities and non-government organizations.
The calendar is already punctuated with special days, weeks and months aimed at increasing awareness among Canadian people to causes that deserve support and special recognition. An example celebrated recently is the International Day of Peace on September 21, which was first celebrated in 1982 and officially declared permanent by the United Nations General Assembly in 2002. This day gives an opportunity to individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace.
Other examples include Child Abuse Awareness Month, National Family Week and the YWCA Week Without Violence, all in October. Then there is Canadian Hockey Week in November. All of those special days, weeks and months represent occasions to reflect on important issues. They have been and will continue to be observed.
An act respecting a national philanthropy day would recognize the efforts of thousands of volunteers and the value of in-kind and financial donations that have supported a myriad of causes. In fact, the Association of Fundraising Professionals created the first national philanthropy day on November 15, 1986, to recognize the contribution that philanthropy makes to our communities.
So far in my remarks I have focused on why designating November 15 each year as national philanthropy day by means of legislation is necessary. I would like to finish by mentioning that legislating a national philanthropy day would contribute to the recognition of the huge contribution of the philanthropy sector to Canadian communities and to many worthy causes around the world. It also would recognize the tremendous positive difference that Canadians, along with non-profit organizations, companies and governments make. I think it is safe to say that legislating a national philanthropy day could help promote and enhance the activities surrounding philanthropy in Canada.
As we can see, there are numerous advantages associated with this bill. The government certainly sees merit in the idea of celebrating philanthropy. Indeed, it encourages Canadians to make charitable donations using income tax incentives. Legislating a national philanthropy day is an appropriate mechanism for advancing this government's agenda.
For all of those reasons, I encourage and urge all of my fellow colleagues and hon. members of this House to support this important bill.
National Philanthropy Day Act
Private Members' Business
February 1st, 2011 / 5:40 p.m.
Fin Donnelly New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the National Philanthropy Day act. My riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam and Port Moody had benefited greatly from all forms of philanthropy. Lester M. Salaman, a leading author and professor on civil society says philanthropy is “the private giving of time or valuables…for public purposes”.
Canadians are generous with their time and money. The Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating reports that a majority of Canadians give. The reports says 23 million Canadians or 84% of the population over the age of 15 made a financial donation to a charity or non-profit in 2007. The common reasons for donating include a feeling of compassion for those in need, wanting to help a cause or wishing to assist the community.
The report also indicates that 12.5 million Canadians or 46% of the population donate their time through volunteering. In 2007 Canadians volunteered 2.1 billion hours, the equivalent of 1.1 million full-time jobs.
I will now highlight some of the good work of people and organizations in my riding. A personal hero of mine and an inspiration to many, Terry Fox, exemplified philanthropy. In 1980, after losing his leg to cancer, Terry, a Tri-Cities resident, began his cross-Canada marathon to raise awareness and money for cancer research. His legacy has resonated with millions of people around the world for over 30 years. Over 300,000 people took part in the first Terry Fox Run, which raised $3.5 million. Today the Terry Fox Run is the largest single day fundraiser for cancer research in the world. The Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $500 million to date.
The Coquitlam Foundation in my riding supports creative targeted philanthropy aimed at building a vibrant, sustainable and healthy community. I attended its gala fundraiser last October and was proud to give to an organization that has contributed so much to our community.
In 2009-10 the Coquitlam Foundation provided grants to numerous local organizations, including the Place des Arts Society and the ArtsConnect Tri-Cities Arts Council. The Coquitlam Foundation is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished through philanthropy.
For decades the rotary clubs have played a major role in raising money for community organizations and groups, such as Meals on Wheels and PoCoMo Youth Services Society. This past year, the rotary clubs of Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam Sunrise collected 11,740 pounds of food and $2,300 for SHARE community food bank. They also volunteered their time for Operation Red Nose.
In 1946 the New Westminster Lions Club was founded. Since then, it has donated over $2 million to the community. Some projects it has contributed to include the first renal dialysis for the Royal Columbian Hospital, a grand piano for Massey Theatre and scholarships to New Westminster Secondary School students.
Faith organizations have always been an important part of charity and raising funds. Our Lady of Fatima in Coquitlam held a dinner fundraiser to help those affected by the earthquake in Haiti. St. Barnabas Anglican Church in New Westminster offers several programs for those in need, including a community lunch every Thursday. Queens Avenue United Church and Holy Trinity Cathedral also participate in free weekly meal programs. The Khalsa Diwan Society organizes food drives to serve people in my riding, as well as the downtown east side of Vancouver.
It is always inspiring to see children and young adults raise money or items for important causes. We see it every year, especially at Christmas. This past year, Port Moody Secondary students donated over 2,000 pounds of food for the SHARE food bank in the Tri-Cities. Baker Drive Elementary in Coquitlam participates in a hamper drive every year.
Mundy Road Elementary, also in Coquitlam, held a Christmas craft fair, donating all funds to sponsor a family over the holidays. When Haiti experienced its devastating earthquake, the grade 6-7 students at École Glenbrook Middle School and Herbert Spencer Elementary School in New Westminster organized a fresh carnation and cookie fundraiser to help the people of Haiti.
The generosity of students helping those in need is truly inspiring.
People often associate philanthropy with people like Bill and Melinda Gates, who have donated millions to global health initiatives, or Bono, who raises money to help fight AIDS in Africa. These are very noble initiatives and should be applauded. However, philanthropy also occurs in every corner of our communities through donations of time and energy, which can often be the greatest gift one can give.
I would also like to recognize those who donate their time and energy working to help people in need. Individuals commit themselves to causes and organizations and provide such a valuable service. I would like to mention my friend and New Westminster resident, Judy Ross. This past year she was named the hardest working volunteer in the New Westminster NewsLeader's A-list for her work with the Fraser River Discovery Centre and the Royal City Farmers' Market.
I think of the volunteers with the Senior Services Society in New Westminster, those who willingly give of their time to grocery shop for seniors who cannot do for themselves any longer, volunteer drivers who assist the elderly with their doctors appointments, et cetera.
I have referenced SHARE Family & Community Services a number of times in my remarks. SHARE, a non-profit community based organization, assists thousands of families and individuals in the Tri-Cities. It operates a food bank, addiction services, English practice groups and family resource centres for new parents. While it receives some government funding, it relies heavily on the generosity of individuals and local businesses. Many of SHARE's programs depend on dedicated volunteers.
Fraserside Community Services in New Westminster plays a key role in building community. Through funding from provincial and federal governments and generous donations from companies, labour groups and individuals, Fraserside provides opportunities to many Royal City residents. It run first step, a program designed to increase the level of self-reliance to people with multiple barriers. It also operates one of the few emergency shelters geared toward families, as well as provide housing for those with developmental disabilities and mental health issues. It is always looking for volunteers who play a critical role in day to day operations at Fraserside.
There are countless volunteers who care for our environment, such as the Como, Coquitlam River and the Hoy/Scott Watershed Society, our waterways, our local creeks and rivers, and the flora and fauna they support. Volunteers run salmon enhancement programs and many community events that raise awareness of the importance of stewardship in our community.
Another hard-working volunteer organization is the Burke Mountain Naturalists, which promotes the awareness of natural beauty in the Tri-Cities and has been instrumental in the preservation of much of the green space we enjoy in the northeast sector. I know the work that those volunteers perform to keep our community healthy and sustainable.
There are so many organizations in my community performing great work. From the Gogos who raise money for African grandmothers and the children in their care, to organizations that care for our local youth, such as KidSport and the Children of the Street Society. There are people who volunteer their time with the Special Olympics. There are those who help the homeless, such as the Tri-City homelessness task group and the New West homelessness coalition. There are several organizations that promote local heritage, like the Port Moody Station Museum, the Coquitlam Heritage Society, the Mackin House Museum and the SPARC organization that is dedicated to the preservation of antique radios in Canada.
We have important community organizations that host large-scale community events like the Golden Spike Days Society, the Société francophone de Maillardville and the Hyack Festival Association.
Philanthropy comes in many forms and is such an important part of our Canadian fabric. Whether it is donating money or time, Canadians are generous and often want nothing more than a good feeling in return.
Today I spoke of philanthropy in my community and I know it occurs throughout our country. The bill is about recognizing the work, compassion and generosity of countless Canadians who make our communities a better place to live.
I support Bill S-203 and I hope all members of the House will as well.
National Philanthropy Day Act
Private Members' Business
February 1st, 2011 / 5:30 p.m.
Bonnie Crombie Mississauga—Streetsville, ON
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise today to contribute to the debate on Bill S-203, the National Philanthropy Day bill. I supported my hon. colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour in the previous incarnation of this bill as Bill S-217, introduced by retired Senator Grafstein, but sadly it died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued.
Bill S-203 is not a new bill. It has been on the order paper in the Senate since 2005 and I have followed its fate with great interest. I am pleased to see it finally make its way through the parliamentary process once again.
Under the bill, November 15 would be established as a special day for philanthropic associations across Canada. National philanthropy days are already held in every region of Canada, involving thousands of citizens every year. This day was initiated at the grassroots level, and continues to grow, led by individual charities and organizations such as the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Canada will lead the world if Parliament adopts the bill and recognizes National Philanthropy Day on November 15.
Barely a facet of Canadian society has not been touched by philanthropy in some way, from children's causes, health care, the arts, et cetera.
According to Imagine Canada, Canadians collectively donated $10 billion to charitable causes in 2007, and that number has grown today. In the spirit of philanthropy, over two billion volunteer hours were donated. Sixty-five per cent of teenagers volunteer as a result of the requirement of high school service hours, representing the highest level of involvement of any age group, and immigrant groups also give larger annual donations on average. Twenty-five per cent of Canadians provide 80% of the value of all donations.
Philanthropy, however, is more than donating money. It is also about the gift of time through volunteerism, passion, selflessness and spirit. It is about what is in our hearts, not necessarily what is in our bank accounts. Many philanthropists are not donors in the tradition sense, but are champions, advocates and volunteers. Philanthropy, as a whole, helps build strong communities and active civic participation by bringing people together to serve a common goal.
Imagine Canada's research, in its “Philanthropic Success Stories in Canada”, describes philanthropy as that which: one, is risky and does not back a sure winner; two, tackles an unpopular issue, such as HIV-AIDS, homelessness, or mental illness; three, is not done for personal glory or for recognition; four, does not have any strings attached; five, is pioneering, innovative and often ahead of the curve; six, addresses the root cause or causes of a problem; seven, draws on the expertise of those who are working in the field; eight, engages and inspires the wider community; nine, demonstrates a long-term commitment; and ten, acts as a spark or a catalyst for lasting social change.
In my career, prior to being elected as the member Mississauga—Streetsville, I was a passionate community activist and fundraiser. I believed in the merits of philanthropy and its ability to make a change and an impact in our society. I have raised money for many worthy charities, organizations and causes, all of which were unable to meet the growing demands of their budgets through government grants or subsidies and had to turn to individuals and corporate donors for support. These included my children's schools when school boards and provincial governments could not adequately meet the need for sports equipment, new technology, or textbooks and also Arts Umbrella, a visual and performing arts institute on Granville Island in Vancouver. I also worked for the Ontario Brain Injury Association, the Brain Injury Association of Canada and Mississauga's Credit Valley Hospital, where we helped build a regional cancer centre, an ambulatory care centre and a new maternal care centre.
I continue to assist causes I believe in, because it is the right thing to do, and I derive a great personal satisfaction from contributing to causes which help friends and help build a stronger and healthier community at large.
Nationally, the achievements of philanthropy are diverse, spanning all aspects of society such as health, housing, education, social services, the environment, and international issues, including aid and development, which demonstrates the widespread impact that philanthropy has both in Canada and abroad.
Let me illustrate some of the examples of how philanthropy has helped our community in some very profound ways.
Both individual philanthropists and foundations are active in fostering innovation. For example, philanthropist and businessman, Alan Broadbent, has been recognized for many of the organizations that he has helped found, including the Maytree Foundation and the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. Both of these organizations were mentioned for their influential work in finding innovative and efficient means of addressing emerging social problems.
One of the victories that Caledon had achieved in the implementation was the national child benefit, a significant step toward addressing child poverty in Canada. Some consider this initiative to be the most promising reform since medicare.
Through the work of community foundations, philanthropy has had a significant role in building strong and vibrant communities. Established in 2001, the Community Foundation of Mississauga is one of more than 155 community foundations in Canada. It serves Mississauga and offers people a variety of ways to make a difference in their community. A record year, 2010 had grants totalling over $700,000. A few areas that were supported include children and youth at risk, the environment, heritage preservation and community building. Because community foundations are attuned to the needs of the community, they are capable of addressing local issues in creative ways.
Further, philanthropy has had an important influence in the development of Canada's health care system, including its hospitals, community-based health services and even in medical breakthroughs. Philanthropy often creates organizations for populations that are not adequately serviced by traditional programs and services of the health care system, such as Mississauga's Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care, founded by Dr. Joseph Wong. The Yee Hong Centre provides care that is culturally and linguistically appropriate for Chinese seniors.
In addition to creating and sustaining hospitals and various specialized health care services, philanthropy raises awareness of a number of health care issues and generates funds for research. Perhaps the most recognizable achievement of this kind is Terry Fox's unforgettable Marathon of Hope, which taught Canadians about cancer and continues to raise significant funds for cancer research, some $23 million plus to date.
Many medical advances depended on philanthropic funding, such as the discovery of the gene that caused cystic fibrosis, found thanks to financial support of donors to help charities like the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Canada. One of the most famous Canadian contributions to medicine, Banting's discovery of insulin, had philanthropic roots.
In education and in the arts, philanthropy has aided public education, literacy efforts, funded university programs, supported university work in research and development, financed buildings, research chairs and scholarships, built unique cultural institutions and supported artists. We have philanthropy to thank for Canada's wealth of first-class universities and a vibrant arts community.
Before the depression, social assistance was provided predominantly by the church. One of the earliest social services umbrella organizations in Canada was the Community Chest. It was a product of various religious charities banding together. This organization later became known as the United Way of Canada. Today, and for many years, philanthropy is heavily involved in providing social assistance.
A shiny example of social assistance only a philanthropic organization can provide is Habitat for Humanity, which prides itself on not receiving any government funding. In fact, I had the pleasure of cutting the ribbon on the first Habitat for Humanity home built in Mississauga by the community for a worthy family that otherwise would never have had a home.
The most highly regarded philanthropists are not those who donate vast sums of money. Rather, it is those who take on risk and tackle unpopular issues, give selflessly of themselves, their time, money and spirit, make a long-term commitment to the cause and have no expectation of recognition or return on their investment. Sometimes philanthropists are wealthy benefactors, but there are also volunteers and advocates who champion it. It is difficult to imagine a part of society that has not been touched in some way by philanthropy.
The reason people volunteer is obvious: they want to help others by giving back to their community while making connections and gaining experience. I speak personally when I say that they gain a sense of personal satisfaction and fulfillment when they learn new skills, meet new people and feel appreciated or recognized in doing so. For others it is about leaving a lasting legacy. Active citizenship is the bedrock of our healthy democracy and creates resilient communities. Charitable giving and volunteering are crucial to our society and all aspects of Canadian living.
National Philanthropy Day has the support of many volunteer organizations, including Imagine Canada, the Philanthropic Foundations Canada, Community Foundations of Canada, the Voluntary Sector Forum, the Canadian Association of Gift Planners and the Canadian Bar Association. That is why I support this private member's bill and call on all parliamentarians to support it as well.
The House resumed from October 21, 2010, consideration of the motion that Bill S-203, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
National Philanthropy Day Act
Private Members' Business
October 21st, 2010 / 6:05 p.m.
Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today to Bill S-203 which calls upon the government to set aside November 15 of each year as national philanthropy day.
Philanthropy is indisputably intertwined with the Canadian way of life. From our earliest days as colonies, helping others, volunteering time and extending compassion and empathy to others have shaped who we are today. These qualities, complemented by the dedication and generosity of our founding peoples, have become intrinsic Canadian values.
The tradition of philanthropy is well established. The contributions of our fellow citizens are numerous and diverse and they can be seen in all areas of life. They can be seen in the areas of health, education, social services, sport and leisure, as well as arts and culture. Canadians are generous and contribute generously to others.
This generosity is manifested in different ways: through charitable giving, by volunteering time to charitable and non-profit organizations, and helping a neighbour or colleague. The motivations to give are as varied as the individuals who give. People give their time to support a cause they believe in, to make their contribution to society and to share their skills or even develop new skills.
According to the 2007 Canada survey of giving, volunteering and participating, Canadian selflessness is vibrant and evolving. Approximately 23 million Canadians had made a financial donation to a charitable or other non-profit organization, which represents $10 billion, a 2.9% increase in the number of donors and a 12% increase in donations compared to 2004.
In 2007, Canadians volunteered almost 2.1 billion hours, equivalent to more than 1 million full-time jobs, a 4.2% increase in hours compared to 2004, and this is in addition to direct support, support not given through an organization. Eighty-four per cent of Canadians provide support or assistance to their neighbours or individuals outside of their families.
Today, volunteering and giving are so well-rooted in the social fabric of Canada that not only do Canadians contribute as individuals, but numerous corporations and institutions give generously often through foundations. More and more corporations and institutions are offering volunteer programs to their employees.
Corporations are aware of the power of their philanthropy on the social and economic capital of our communities. Philanthropy can help corporations build their reputations and also contributes to healthy and strong communities. Furthermore, according to a survey published by Imagine Canada in 2007, corporations that support their communities foster pride and loyalty among their employees.
In addition to significant financial contributions, corporations. such as Molson Coors and the National Bank of Canada, support volunteering through programs for their employees. For example, Molson Coors provides a paid day to its employees to spend participating in a team-based volunteer activity.
In 2005, the National Bank of Canada created the “Our hearts are with you” program to encourage its current and retired employees to volunteer. This program was designed to support, recognize and reward employees' efforts and to enhance the impact of their volunteer work. This program contributes to the success of the many fundraisers and supports the organization of events.
For example, in 2009, for the sixth straight year 1,100 employees from several provinces raised approximately $330,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. That very same year, National Bank of Canada employees, combined with a matching program offered by their employer, contributed over $2.7 million to the United Way campaign.
Other corporations prefer to support a specific cause that is in line with their values.
In 1974, Ron Joyce, coordinator of the Tim Hortons chain, created a foundation to honour Tim Horton's love for children and his desire to help those less fortunate. The foundation provides a fun-filled camp environment that is open all year long for thousands of children from communities that have Tim Hortons coffee shops. In 2009, approximately 14,000 children from economically disadvantaged homes benefited from this program.
I would also like to highlight the contribution of institutions like hospitals and schools. They are increasingly adopting volunteer programs, in addition to their existing financial support and fundraising campaigns. Examples of this can be found at the McGill University Health Centre where approximately 1,700 volunteers donate their time, their compassion and their experience to 90 volunteer programs.
Another example is the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario where students from high school and university, along with elderly people and professionals, volunteer thousands of hours of their time and share their expertise.
Since childhood, our children are made aware of the importance of self-sacrifice and the impact this can have on their community. Many schools promote social and community involvement by establishing volunteer programs, such as the program established by the International Baccalaureate, a non-profit educational foundation.
In Canada, 297 private and public schools have adopted this program which requires that students complete a certain number of hours of community service in order to receive their diploma. Other schools have built their own programs, such as the volunteer program of the Académie Parhélie in the Yukon which encourages students to volunteer their time to help others.
In Ontario, all high schools across the province, which includes approximately 700,000 students, need to complete 40 hours of community service to get their high school diploma. This requirement has been in place since 1999. In addition, many students do more hours than they are required and continue to volunteer throughout their lives or return to volunteering once they are adults.
Fostering engagement from childhood raises children's' awareness of social involvement, boosts their talents, their sense of organization and increases self-esteem. Although the majority of donors and volunteers prefer to be anonymous and have it kept confidential, the extent of their contributions is recognized in many ways.
One of the ways donors and volunteers are recognized is through National Philanthropy Day on November 15. This day, held the very first time in 1986, is important to many organizations that use this day to celebrate and highlight the contributions of their many generous volunteers and donors.
National Philanthropy Day provides an opportunity for organizations to celebrate their accomplishments, to identify their future needs and to raise awareness within their communities.
I believe that the adoption of a National Philanthropy Day should, first and foremost, encourage Canadians to give of their time and their talents to benefit the causes that are nearest and dearest to them, thus strengthening their communities.
Therefore, as the member for Miramichi, New Brunswick, where people are constantly so willing to help and to volunteer their time for the good of our community, I am happy to support Bill S-203, an act to set aside November 15 of each year as national philanthropy day.
National Philanthropy Day Act
Private Members' Business
October 21st, 2010 / 5:55 p.m.
Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON
Mr. Speaker, as always, it is an incredible honour for me to stand in this House as a representative of the people of the region of Timmins—James Bay. I am proud to speak on behalf of the New Democratic Party tonight on Bill S-203, National Philanthropy Day Act.
There is a false philosophy that I think has corrupted much of our world in the last century, a philosophy that says people only do things out of self-interest. We see that with the great social heretic Ayn Rand and her belief that greed was good, that if people were greedy the world would somehow be a better place, and this idea of enlightened self-interest that people are somehow helping the world by looking out for number one, and of course, the people who fall by the wayside are left to fall by the wayside.
We know this argument is flawed on so many different levels, because people do so much without a thought of self-interest. In fact, I would argue that people are fundamentally motivated to do and to change the world, and to help their neighbour because they feel compelled to do it, not just because they feel good about it and not because it makes them feel somehow better but because it is what is in our fundamental DNA as human beings.
Whenever there is an issue, whenever there is a crisis, we will see the goodness of human beings, and I would say, the goodness of human beings overriding sometimes the more negative aspects of human beings.
In my riding of Timmins—James Bay, whenever there is a house fire, the neighbours come together. They start to look out for each other. In fact, I have found that the poorer the community, often the more people are willing to give.
This is the desire, perhaps, for us to examine the issue of a philanthropy day. I am not quibbling with the idea behind this motion; the only question I would have is that I do not think many people would consider themselves philanthropists.
“Philanthropy” comes from the original Greek words, and there are various Greek words for love or for care. There is “eros”, which we would use as “erotic”, the physical form of love. There is “philo”, which becomes philanthropy. There is the other word for love, which is “agape”, which is a much deeper, spiritual, religious love. Philanthropy comes from this original Greek word.
What it has come to mean, specifically within our culture, is the certain class of people who give from their excess, the millionaires and billionaires, as one member referred to. My colleague from Alberta said this should not be a day just about recognition of millionaires and billionaires, it should be a recognition of all those who give. That is certainly something I think we can all agree on.
However, the term “philanthropist” does, by its general nature, exclude everyone who gives. It has a much more specific meaning. If we were looking to talk about everyone who gives, perhaps we would call it “national help your neighbour day”.
The philanthropist tradition is certainly known in the United States, probably more so than anyplace else. In the 19th century, there were the great billionaires, the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, the Guggenheims. Anybody who has ever been to New York City will see the immense wealth of these mass, giant capitalist families. After a certain point of building their industries, they started to put their wealth into philanthropic organizations.
In my region of Timmins—James Bay, we have a Carnegie library in the town of New Liskeard. There is a Carnegie library in Sudbury. The Guggenheims did a phenomenal amount of work in terms of bringing modern art to New York. They did that from their position of immense wealth.
To encourage people like the modern-day Rockefellers and ones who are further below them, we have instituted tax credits so that we encourage the wealthy and people with money to put aside some of their wealth. They get usually very impressive tax benefits for doing that. There is a role for that within our society.
It is a role to replace the social fabric of our country, which is becoming more and more tattered every day. I think this is where we see in the United States that they have taken a wrong turn in terms of philanthropy. We now see a new age of great philanthropy in the United States that also very much mirrors the 19th century where there were immense wealth disparities.
There is a book out about how these modern billionaires such as the Gates, the Buffetts and the Bonos who have such immense wealth will somehow save the planet.
It is very similar to the 19th century with the Rockefellers and the Carnegies and that age of philanthropy. At that time, the conditions of average society in America and North America was brutal. We have to be careful about lionizing such a massive wealth gap in our country so that the super rich are somehow seen in this modern theory of being able to save the planet.
That is not to take away, in any way, from the work they are doing. It is immense work. We need to encourage them and ensure that the philanthropists in our society are playing specific roles to better our society. For example, the Gates Foundation plays a role that government does not do.
However, we have to ensure that we do not expect it to replace the existing social fabric that we have developed co-operatively within the country over the last 140 years. This has made Canada very humane country, a country where we have looked out for each other.
We also need to remember, in recognizing the philanthropists, that we have to recognize the fact that people give so much of themselves without the idea of a tax break, without the idea that they will be ever recognized. That is a much more fundamental driver.
For example, when I was 19 years and my ears were as big as they are now, but I was only 120 pounds, I decided there was a much better role for me in the world than going to school. I became involved in a movement called the Catholic Worker Movement. The Catholic Worker Movement was founded by Dorothy Day, the incredible bohemian writer from New York City who worked with the poor. Dorothy inspired generations of young Catholics to get involved and to work with the poor. However, Dorothy had an amazing principle. She said that if people wanted to donate, they could but there would be no tax credits. She felt that everyone who donated should donate because they actually felt it was important to donate as opposed to just because a foundation or a large organization would donate.
I was about 22 when we bought a house in downtown Toronto. I did not have two pennies to put together. People came together and said that they supported it. We bought a house. We had real estate. Every month, people came with donations and wanted to help the work we were doing with men coming out of prisons, with refugees, with people on the street.
In fact, people wanted to help so much that we would come home some days and we could not get in our door because some school would have donated hundreds of bags of clothing. It would take days to figure out what to do with them. People wanted to give. People wanted to make a difference. Any of our members on any side of the House will say that when there is an issue where there is a cause, people will come forward. They do not necessarily see themselves as philanthropists. It is just what they do.
When we move forward with this, and it is a bill to be supported, the work of public foundations and heritage buildings that are handed over by multimillionaires to be part of a public trust or the money set aside from men and women, who would otherwise build themselves an extra fifth, or sixth or seventh house in the Cayman Islands, to be put into some public good or some public project is to be recommended, and we support the issue of tax credits.
We support the role of philanthropy within our society, but we also have to recognize that we are not all philanthropists just because we give. The meaning of it has become much more specific to a group of people who are within that realm whose names appear on the various boards and foundations, the philanthropists who we recognize.
However, let us remember that so much of what makes our country move, so much of what makes our country great and so much of what makes our country look out for those who are falling behind, for those who are hungry and for those who are in prison, comes from the general goodness of the people here, the people there and the people all over who give because they would give anyway without ever thinking their name would appear on a plaque or they would get a tax break. They give because it is what they do.
There needs to be some way to recognize that within our society. I would like to move a motion but I do not know what we would call it. At the end day we would maybe call it national Canadian day because we are a society that cares and we have to continue in that process.