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 organizations.

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

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler York Centre, ON

I see. Okay, thanks.

4:40 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Peggy Nash

Thank you very much.

I have put myself on the list of questioners, and I'll continue with you, Mr. Patrick.

You said that the genesis of this program comes from the U.S. I did see a similar program when I was down there a couple of years ago. Are they the model? Would you say, if there were a place that's more advanced than Canada on this, it would be the U.S.?

4:40 p.m.

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

Jim Patrick

I'm not the expert to make comparisons beyond North America. I do know that the text-to-donate channel works essentially the same in Canada and the U.S., based on a keyword and a five-digit short code. We have a few direct comparables, like the Haiti experience, but beyond that we haven't done any extensive international comparisons.

4:40 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Peggy Nash

Okay.

I have quick question while you're here. Are you folks looking at the cellphone registry for lost phones?

4:40 p.m.

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

Jim Patrick

It's something we're considering and looking at, yes.

4:40 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Peggy Nash

Okay, great.

On the proposals for both the stretch tax credit and the capital gains, do you think that there are some kinds of charities that would benefit more and some that might not see any advantage to these proposed changes?

I'm someone who was on the fundraising board, the campaign committee, of the United Way in Toronto for a long time. Is the United Way an organization that might benefit? Are there some organizations that might not see any benefit from these changes you're proposing?

Whoever wants to answer that can.

4:40 p.m.

Chair, Association of Fundraising Professionals

Andrea McManus

My response to that would be that the stretch tax credit, which I'd like to go back on record as saying would be our first choice, would benefit small to medium charities more than it would benefit the larger, well-known charities, such as hospitals and universities. The removal of capital gains on private securities and land and real estate would probably benefit the larger charities more, just because they already receive larger gifts generally.

Part of my previous answer comes from the fact that I've been doing a lot of work with agencies that serve the homeless. They are not large agencies. Whether they're focusing on addictions or affordable housing or whatever the contributing factors to homelessness are, they would greatly benefit from being able to receive gifts of land and real estate.

I think the charitable tax credit is a clear benefit to smaller- to medium-sized charities that generally find it harder to raise money, and perhaps have a higher cost of fundraising attached to that.

The other one is kind of both.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Peggy Nash

Does anyone else want to add something?

4:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, CanadaHelps

Owen Charters

I just want to say that we do see the stretch tax credit as benefiting all. I think it's one of those “rising tide floats all boats” measures.

I think it also helps organizations, even the large ones.... Speaking to an earlier question on the support in the U.S., I would point out that some of that support, for instance, is from alumni of universities in the U.S., where there's very strong support. I think Canadians are still trying to build that from a broader base and not just from their wealthy alumni. So I think there's capacity in all institutions.

I've worked in fundraising for hospital foundations and health charities, as well, and there's no doubt that the other proposals, especially for eliminating the capital gains tax, would be helpful, but they are complex, and legally, they often take a lot of work. For instance, at CanadaHelps, we facilitated online gifts of securities for small organizations, simply because those organizations don't have brokers. It would be very hard for us to do that with something similar under these other proposals. We know that with some of the other proposals, there is a lot of complexity to deal with for small organizations and a lot of legal advice required, which they just don't have access to.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Peggy Nash

Thank you.

Mr. Howlett, you talked earlier about low-income people giving a greater percentage of their income. You didn't get a chance to really finish your thought. I have about 45 seconds left, if you'd like to talk further about that.

4:45 p.m.

Coordinator, Canadians for Tax Fairness

Dennis Howlett

The figures I have show that people with incomes lower than $20,000 gave about 1.6% of their income in charitable giving, whereas people with incomes over $100,000, gave 0.5%. If you look at giving in terms of the percentage of income, low-income people actually give a lot more. They don't generally get tax receipts for that, and their gifts are often less than $200, so they're given the lowest rate. That's what we feel is unfair.

4:45 p.m.

NDP

The Vice-Chair Peggy Nash

Thank you.

Mr. Goguen, you have five minutes.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you to all the witnesses for appearing.

In holding to the theme, I'll try to ask charitable questions—

4:45 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

May 3rd, 2012 / 4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Goguen Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Robert Goguen —but their non-deductible, however.

I'm curious to get Ms. MacKenzie's take on the volunteers and their contributions not being tax-deductible. We've sort of abandoned the fort on that. We have the fireman's tax deduction.

Is even having a set fee to encourage people to volunteer unworkable in your mind?