Evidence of meeting #56 for Finance in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was tax.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Andrea McManus  Chair, Association of Fundraising Professionals
  • Owen Charters  President and Chief Executive Officer, CanadaHelps
  • Dennis Howlett  Coordinator, Canadians for Tax Fairness
  • Jim Patrick  Senior Vice-President, Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, Mobile Giving Foundation Canada
  • Ruth MacKenzie  President and Chief Executive Officer, Volunteer Canada

4:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Volunteer Canada

Ruth MacKenzie

I think there are some unique issues around tax incentives for volunteer firefighters or emergency services volunteers in terms of how volunteering plays out and the cost implications of volunteering. I think that's a bit of a unique niche.

But just generally there is no basis that a tax incentive is an incentive to volunteer. Our research and research from Volunteer Alberta conveys that's really not the case.

I also think there are way too many questions that are still around about that whole issue. The concern about quantifying volunteering and the picture that presents about altruism and the role of volunteers in our community is also really concerning. When you look at quantifying volunteering in terms of the hours contributed and an hourly wage rate, you really miss the human capital and social capital that is built through volunteering.

Our concern is about simply looking at volunteering in a quantifiable sense.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Even based on a minimum wage, given the province, there is no way you could establish some sort of a gauge, even a topped-off amount? Has it been done in any other country, do we know?

4:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Volunteer Canada

Ruth MacKenzie

Some countries have a tax incentive. The U.S. has a tax incentive for volunteering.

Our point as well is that talk about volunteering strictly in those terms is problematic to many volunteers, who find it off-putting when they think of the altruistic nature of why they came to volunteering.

So again if we're talking about recognizing volunteers with the assumption that it's not an incentive for people to volunteer or volunteer more, there are other mechanisms to recognize a volunteer contribution.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Well, you noted a while ago that the cost of volunteering seems to be a disincentive, like the police checks and the other costs. Should associated costs like that be tax deductible?

4:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Volunteer Canada

Ruth MacKenzie

That's certainly something to be looked at. Having a tax credit for the real costs that individuals incur when volunteering is quite a different matter than a tax incentive for time given.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Okay. Thank you.

Those are all my questions.

4:50 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Peggy Nash

Thank you.

Ms. Glover.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Thank you.

Thank you very much for coming.

I love this study because it gives us a real opportunity to have a discussion about out-of-the-box ideas to increase charitable giving. But as we're progressing with this study, the trend that I'm seeing, unfortunately, is that there appears to be some kind of an effort to support two main ideas: the stretch tax and the capital gains.

We've heard those ideas repeatedly. I'm looking to encourage anyone who might be watching or listening and who might be appearing here in the future to come with some new ideas, because we are going to consider those two ideas and you could also quickly say when you are here that, yes, we support these ideas. But I think we're missing an opportunity when each of these organizations just come here and reiterate what a stretch tax credit is and what a capital gains tax is, because there are other ideas.

So, unfortunately, I'm going to focus my time on the two new ideas because we have spent an awful lot of time on the other situations and I'm disappointed that we aren't coming up with more out-of-the-box ideas.

Jim Patrick, you came here today with a new proposal, which is why we're quite engaged by it. But I want to know what's in it for your organization? How much do the charities pay on average? Is there a formula that you use?

4:50 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, Mobile Giving Foundation Canada

Jim Patrick

The charities pay the Mobile Giving Foundation; they don't pay us. The Mobile Giving Foundation is a separately incorporated body.

I don't have particular statistics on whether there is an average fee or whether it's a transactional fee. It's something I can look into.

What's in it for us is that we think that people should be using wireless technology to do everything. Because it was possible we thought it should be implemented. It's similar to the reason we had for taking on the wireless amber. We run a free cellphone recycling program. There is very little in it for us on a financial level, but it's—

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Right, but it does advertise the.... So I get that.

Now my question of the others is, why are you not using this mobile giving? What is the disadvantage to this? Are your organizations using this, Ms. McManus, Mr. Charters, Ms. MacKenzie?

4:50 p.m.

Chair, Association of Fundraising Professionals

Andrea McManus

I don't see any disadvantages to using mobile giving. In fact we recently completed a study on fundraising practices and found that the vast majority of organizations use up to eight different methodologies to raise money.

The reality is that people give in different ways. Some people like to give over the phone, some people like to give to somebody at the door, some people like to text, and some people like to do online giving through—

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

It's just because my time is limited that I'm interrupting you, but do you know how many of the charities your organization represents might be using mobile?

4:50 p.m.

Chair, Association of Fundraising Professionals

Andrea McManus

I think the number would be very low because it's so new, but it is catching on.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Right. Great ideas are found at the finance committee on the Hill.

Mr. Charters, is your organization using it?

4:50 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, CanadaHelps

Owen Charters

We deliver online transactional capacity which, in many cases, people are accessing through online devices. They're accessing the Internet wherever it may be, whether it's in their pocket, or it's a wire line, or it's at Starbucks. We're finding people are using our service through wireless services, through access to the Internet. We actually believe that's the way more and more people will be going. I think what we're talking about is more about transactional capacity.