National Philanthropy Day Act

An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in December 2009.

Status

In committee (House), as of Oct. 20, 2009
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment designates the 15th day of November in each and every year as “National Philanthropy Day” and requires the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages to make a declaration recognizing National Philanthropy Day.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2009 / 5:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

moved that Bill S-217, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to once again bring this bill forward to the House, a bill first introduced, debated and adopted by our colleagues in the other place.

Bill S-217 would officially recognize November 15 of each year as national philanthropy day. I want to thank the hon. senators who did the legwork on this piece of legislation, in particular Senators Grafstein and Mercer and others who have dedicated large parts of their lives to the betterment of others through philanthropic endeavours. Their work continues with this bill. I congratulate them on their life's work, for bringing this bill forward once again and particularly for the diligence they have shown over the last couple of Parliaments to get this through.

National philanthropy day in fact occurs already on November 15. Events are held across this country to recognize the critical importance of philanthropy, of giving in Canada. The bill before us today seeks to officially recognize these efforts by the Parliament of Canada.

I want to thank my colleague from Mississauga—Streetsville for seconding it. I know she has a long history of philanthropy and helping others.

Giving is a critical component to so many sectors, organizations, communities and Canadians. Today, giving is probably more important than ever. It builds upon the shared responsibility we have to help each other. It brings people together around a common cause. At a time when governments are reducing funding and support for the voluntary sector, privately donated money becomes critical to replace that shortfall.

In critical areas like health care, human rights, health promotion, the arts, literacy, recreation for our children, services for our seniors, churches, and so many others, the act of giving time and money is a central element of an organization's ability to serve its community.

Like most colleagues in the House, I have worked as a volunteer in the charitable sector and I have seen and felt the impact of those who give. In my own experience, I have been privileged to be associated with organizations like the CNIB, the Canadian Cancer Society, literacy groups, food banks, the Arthritis Society and many others.

My longest and strongest affiliation is with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, where I served as president in Nova Scotia, as well as serving on the national board of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. I learned that people give in many ways, large and small.

I was always amazed and humbled when every February thousands of Nova Scotians would hit the streets during Heart Month. They would go door to door collecting money in small amounts and some larger ones for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Many of those same people hit the pavement a few months later in support of the Cancer Society or the Multiple Sclerosis Society or any number of other charities.

Philanthropy takes a number of forms. Every member of the House can think of those who give in their own communities, but in my own community of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour there are many examples of work that is being done. Some of it may seem small.

I think about those who work in food banks. I think about the volunteers who, every Wednesday, provide food for those in need in the north end of Dartmouth. I think about Feeding Others of Dartmouth, an organization with which my family has a long association, that provides support for those in Dartmouth who need food on a daily basis.

I think about literacy and people who give of their time so that others can learn to read and write. I can recall when the cuts to literacy were made in 2006, the number of people who called me and talked about how important this work was to them, people who gave of their time and helped them learn to read and write.

A man came into my office in tears to tell me about his circumstance. He had a job and he struggled. He had two or three children and struggled every day, but he did his job. He finally had an opportunity for promotion and had to turn it down because he knew he could not pass the literacy test. He did not want his employers to find out that he was in fact illiterate as it might affect his existing job. People help folks like that. People help learners.

There are breakfast for children programs and recreation programs. Like many people in the House, I have a son who is involved in minor hockey and soccer. I have a daughter who plays soccer and is involved in the Girl Guides. These things could not happen without people who give in the community. That does not even mention service clubs, the Kinsmen, the Kiwanis, the Rotary Club, the Lions Club and everybody else who gives so much.

On a small level people give, but on a large level people give as well. In my own community, there are people who support causes: the Risleys, the Rowes, the O'Regans, the Fountains, the Goldblooms, the Sobeys, the Joudreys, the Keatings, the McPhees, the Smithers, the Conrads, the MacDonalds, the Spatzs, the Flemings, the Edwards, and the Dennis family.

I want to mention one significant act of philanthropy in our community. Graham Dennis is the long-time publisher of the Halifax Chronicle Herald, one of Canada's few independently owned newspapers. He is the head of a very charitable family as well. A few years ago, I think it was in 2002, his son Will passed away at the age of 30 from an epileptic seizure. To honour his memory, the Will Dennis Fund was created.

The primary initiative of this is the establishment of the Will Dennis Chair in Pediatric Epilepsy at the IWK Children's Hospital. The fund reached a milestone in 2007, with the appointment of Dr. Michael Esser to the chair. Now it is a fully endowed chair. A lot of that money came from the Dennis family, not in a splashy way, not in any way to elevate themselves, but to bring to the community the resources they had in memory of somebody they loved so that others would not suffer in the same way.

That is the kind of philanthropy that exists in our communities. That is the kind of giving that makes Canada a better place. That is the kind of giving that we want to recognize with a national philanthropy day on November 15 from the Government of Canada.

Governments have come to rely on generous people. Governments need to do all they can to encourage this type of giving. There are many ways to support philanthropy. We can do so through the tax system, by leveraging money, and through recognition, like here today, by passing legislation to formally make November 15 of each year national philanthropy day. That would be a welcome acknowledgement for the many people in the philanthropic community who support this legislation, the organizations that support philanthropy and the hard-working people who go out and raise money these days, which is not easy. I mention organizations like AFP, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Philanthropic Foundations Canada, the Voluntary Sector Forum, Imagine Canada, and the Canadian Association of Gift Planners.

Charities are respected by Canadians. Polls have consistently shown that Canadians trust charities. In many ways, they trust charities more than they trust governments. A recent opinion poll of nearly 4,000 people found that charities are highly trusted. Charity leaders rank only behind nurses and doctors in terms of trust from the population. A majority of Canadians say they have a lot of trust in charities. These are organizations that are made up of people to support other people. They do it at great personal expense, but they do it because it is important, whether it is giving of time or whether it is giving of money.

Each of us has unsung heroes in our communities and ridings, people who give of their time and money in the hope that their efforts will make a difference. They do make a difference; they make a very significant difference.

Bill S-217 requires no money from the government. It is entirely non-partisan. It does not require even any investment of government time. All it requires is the recognition of giving, of philanthropy, of the hard work that is done by fundraising professionals and volunteers. Ultimately, it recognizes the great efforts of those who give to improve the lives of others. It is a small ask of this place with a huge reward for our country: a better, more generous Canada.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2009 / 6:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member on his involvement. I am involved with the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, Yukon Literacy Coalition, Yukon Learn Society, and the Skookum Jim Indian Friendship Centre.

I would like to ask the member if he has had the same experience with two special types of giving. Volunteerism is very important. I was shocked when the government cut money from the voluntary sector. The first type would be Yukoners, Newfoundlanders, people from rural Canada, people from small communities. In a small community there are several hundred of these NGOs asking for money and those people come forward with that money. The second type in a small rural community would be the few businesses that are asked by these hundreds of NGOs and they are very giving in special circumstances. Going door to door, I would meet people who had no money. I wondered if they could put food on the table, but they would come up with a few cents. That really moved me and made me proud to be a Canadian.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2009 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, one of the things we constantly find in this country is that a lot of the money that is given does not necessarily come from people we might expect or from areas we might expect. We have very generous people who give money, like the John Risleys and the Ken Rowes and the Goldblooms. We are very fortunate that way.

However, I recall from the days when I was involved with the Heart and Stroke Foundation that the maritimers gave more money on a per capita basis than people in the rest of the country. People in Cape Breton, for example, and parts of rural Nova Scotia that do not seem to be doing particularly well, were very generous.

Canadians are generous people. I think Canadians want to help their fellow citizens. I think Canadians want a country that is strong. Canadians believe that we are a stronger country when we help the weak, that we are stronger when we protect the vulnerable, and they want to play their part in that.

This bill would be a recognition of that fact. It would allow people to give, knowing that the government supports their initiatives.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2009 / 6:10 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, one important thing to recognize with respect to philanthropy is that some large generous donations have been provided by Canadians across the country, but our current tax structure actually reduces what people would get back at tax time because donations are tied to the income tax rates. We have actually reduced what people get back for a charitable donation.

I want to know if the member supports my private member's bill which would reverse that. It matches what we get as current political parties, and it is capped at a certain amount what political parties can give and then it returns to the existing amount.

For example, for the first $400 donation that a person gave to a political party, the person would get 75% of it back. I believe there should be the same type of system in place for when people give to the Girl Guides, the Boy Scouts, the United Way. I want to know if the hon. member supports that initiative.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2009 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I always felt when I was in the not-for-profit sector as a volunteer that the taxation situation should be the same for not-for-profit organizations as it is for political parties.

I am not specifically familiar with my colleague's private member's bill. However, I always thought it made sense. Politicians make the tax laws and the laws are designed to assist people giving money to politics. I think that people should be encouraged to give money to politics. They should be given more credit for giving money to regulated not-for-profit charities.

Today we are debating the philanthropy bill. I would be quite happy to have that discussion with my colleague. I would ask him for his support on this bill, and then I will consider my support for his bill.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2009 / 6:10 p.m.
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NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member on his bill.

I want to take the opportunity to congratulate Clara Hughes, who is one of my constituents. I think many people know her as the champion speed skater at the Olympics. When she struck gold at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, she donated $10,000 from her bank account to the Right to Play organization and challenged corporations to do the same.

I thought that was a spectacular effort on her part, given that the Olympic athletes do not have a lot of resources to give in the first place.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2009 / 6:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I admire Clara Hughes, who is not only a winter Olympian but a summer Olympian as well. The work she has done is fabulous.

I would be remiss not to mention Sidney Crosby from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, who is one of the leaders in Canada not only as a hockey player but as a person who supports charities, who works with kids and makes this country a better place.

We have some fabulous athletes in this country. Not all athletes are great role models but when we talk about Clara Hughes and Sidney Crosby, we are very blessed in this country.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2009 / 6:10 p.m.
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Peterborough Ontario

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Canadians from coast to coast to coast who give their time, money, talent and passion to charitable and philanthropic causes across this country. It is these people who make Canada the greatest country in the world.

We are fortunate to have a healthy and vibrant charitable sector and a strong tradition of philanthropy in Canada. Every year almost 23 million Canadians reach into their pockets and donate more than $10 billion to support charities and causes that they collectively believe in.

Canadians not only support these causes with their wallets but also with their time. These days it is more and more difficult to find quality time to spend with loved ones and yet Canadians still give their evenings and weekends to organizations that depend on donated time.

In my riding of Peterborough, the electric city region as I like to call it, we have great examples of people who donate so much of their time, their money and their efforts. Two weeks ago a new clinic was opened in Lakefield, a village in my riding. So much of that was made possible by the Morton family, a family which gave so much money because they wanted it for the community.

I think of people like Daryl and Jewel Bennett; a former MPP from Peterborough, Keith Brown, who is always there; John and June Turner, who have been there; the former speaker of the Ontario legislature, who has been there for United Way fundraising causes for years. The three loonies: Peter Blodgett, Bruce Fitzpatrick and Bob McGillen, who go out every year and raise all kinds of money for the Peterborough food bank and for the Peterborough Kawartha food share.

A lot of people know Jim Balsillie from RIM and the BlackBerry that we are all so fond of. Jim Balsillie donated so much money. He was the largest donor to the Peterborough family YMCA, hence why it bears the name “Balsillie” on the outside of the building. And of course, John and Susan Mackle, busy people who are giving so much of their time this year to head up our United Way campaign of which I will be a major contributor. I have made the pledge that I will do that as will my colleagues in this party to support the Peterborough United Way.

I want to salute all members in the House. They have demanding schedules and it may limit their volunteer opportunities, but many participate for a cause. It is these types of events that bring people together for a common goal and that is true of all members in the House and all parties. But it does not stop there. The many benefits that derive from people giving so generously of themselves is tenfold. The knowledge that we have helped or impacted someone's life is truly priceless.

In 2007 Canadians volunteered more than 2.1 billion hours of their personal time to volunteer associations, charities and community groups. That is equivalent to more than 1.1 million full-time jobs worth of volunteer time and that number continues to grow each and every year.

An example of this generosity was on display in the national capital just a few weeks ago when more than 8,500 volunteers and participants joined the CIBC Run for the Cure. Even during these hard times many generous people gave their time and money to support, and they should be saluted for that.

In fact, similar to the CIBC Run for the Cure each and every year we have the dragon boat races in Peterborough and it always astounds me how many people show up at Little Lake in Peterborough for the dragon boat races. This year we are going to have two dragon boat races in Peterborough. We will have the event that we have every year that this year raised in excess of $200,000, but next year we are going to have the international dragon boat races in Peterborough. It is so exciting that we will be welcoming them to raise money for a truly great cause, breast cancer research.

The people of Ottawa in the CIBC Run for the Cure raised a record $1.5 million just a couple of weeks ago for breast cancer research. It is remarkable. Although such a feat appears astounding during a recession, these actions happen every day in every province, in every city, in every town in this great country. From walks to raise money for multiple sclerosis, or silent auctions, to help fund local community centres, from the countless hours spent organizing and planning to donations big and small, the spirit of giving is the very essence of what makes this country truly great.

Although the billions of donated dollars and hours were not given for recognition, they are certainly worth every penny. Volunteers have the power to make the difference because they are the community. They do not volunteer because they have to, but rather, they volunteer because they want to.

We are fortunate to have a healthy and vibrant charitable sector and a strong tradition of philanthropy in Canada. The philanthropic spirit of giving of every type, from donating to volunteering, is essential to the values of Canadians and is worthy of recognition.

Through the dedicated work of caring individuals and organizations, November 15 has already come to be known throughout Canada as national philanthropy day. It is time to make it official. The recognition of this special day would help further the important work of those involved in the philanthropic community while encouraging the generosity of Canadians.

This government calls the attention of Canadians to this worthy day and to the actions of all those who have given of themselves to make Canada and the world a better place.

Therefore, on behalf of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, I am signifying our intention to declare November 15 in each and every year to be recognized throughout Canada as national philanthropy day.

This is a day that belongs to all Canadians, not just the Government of Canada.

This is a day that belongs to all Canadians who have given their time or money not because it was legislated or taxed by an order of the government but because it was a good thing to do.

This is a day for each and every one of us to give a simple thank you to everyone who has helped make this country a better place, indeed, the greatest country on earth.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2009 / 6:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, this evening we are debating Bill S-217, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day in Canada. I would like to point out that the Bloc Québécois is in favour of this initiative and we hope it will help not only to recognize Quebeckers and Canadians who espouse the values of generosity, altruism and compassion, but also to encourage more people to give generously.

It would be difficult for us to oppose the introduction of such a day not only because it promotes values such as generosity, altruism and compassion, but also because November 15 is already a recognized date in North America. The Association of Fundraising Professionals, a U.S. based agency with over 200 chapters around the world, including in Quebec, has been celebrating this day since 1986 in order to underscore the contributions philanthropists make to enriching the planet.

This bill, if passed, would make official this event that occurs every November 15—an event that a number of Quebec, Canadian and international organizations have already been celebrating, as I was saying.

But how will this bill raise more awareness in people about philanthropy and encourage them to become more philanthropic, and why would this be a good idea? Traditionally, Quebeckers gave less because they felt it was up to the state or the Church to be in charge of funding for health and social problems.

For example, in the 1980s in Quebec, philanthropy was associated more with the Church, which helped meet people's needs at a time when the state could not, or with volunteer activities. It was harder for individuals or private companies that worked full time in philanthropic endeavours. Little by little, however, specialized agencies developed in order to connect with the general public and to raise awareness to their cause.

For a long time, Quebeckers were considered to be less generous, but nowadays, Quebeckers are giving more and more to charitable organizations. According to Imagine Canada, from 2004 to 2007, Quebeckers increased the value of their donations by 24%, giving $1.17 billion of the $12 billion donated annually in Canada. That is the biggest increase in the country. Some might think that they give an average of $200 per year compared to the $437 Canadians give. Some might think that they do less than other Canadians. However, that assumption is not valid. According to Épisode, a company that does fundraising in Quebec, it is not true that Quebeckers are less generous than Canadians. That misconception is based on Canadians' tax returns, but Quebeckers make a lot of donations for which they do not claim the tax credits they are entitled to.

What kind of philanthropy are we talking about? An international philanthropy day would give us an opportunity to reflect on the new strategic or capitalist philanthropy and on why wealthy donors, business people and private companies decide to use patronage to boost their image or to play a certain role in public policy. We should reflect on the fine line between traditional, authentic, sincere philanthropy and philanthropy designed to further the donors' financial interests.

Recently, we have seen a shift from traditional philanthropy to strategic philanthropy where upper-class individuals try to apply private enterprise models to charitable organizations to achieve concrete results. These people are known as philanthrocapitalists. They invest huge sums of money in health, education, the environment and the fight to end poverty. In many cases, they set up foundations, such as the $30 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, whose projects include helping to develop medicines for third world countries.

There are others, such as Guy Laliberté and his One Drop Foundation. The Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon created an innovative social PPP—a public philanthropic partnership—with the Government of Quebec.

I wanted to highlight these examples to help us reflect on the type of philanthropy people are engaging in.

Above all, we must ask ourselves about the government's role in providing assistance to the population. As we know, the government has important strategies and programs in areas such as health, education and poverty. This is what is known as the social safety net, and it requires government involvement and commitment.

For instance, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, the gap between the wealthy and middle class, and those living in poverty in this country has continued to grow over the past 10 years for all age groups, reaching 12%. In addition, some 6% of Canadian seniors and 15% of Canadian children are living in poverty. What is more, the federal government is investing less in benefits for the unemployed than any other member country of the OECD, which is undermining its effectiveness when it comes to reducing inequalities.

Such a day would allow us to reflect on the role of the Canadian government in relation to all these social issues and all its obligations to Canadians.

I will give another example. Although Canada is committed to setting the development assistance budget at 0.7% of GNP by 2015, today it stands at a meagre 0.31% of GNP. If we maintain current increases, the development assistance budget will reach 0.7% only towards 2037.

Once again philanthropy should not make up for the government's failures. Earlier, we talked about many organizations that raise funds for such causes as breast cancer, MS and all neuro-degenerative diseases. The government must also assume its responsibilities. A day to highlight the contribution of philanthropic organizations would also make it possible to take stock of the government's responsibility.

We know that corporate philanthropy—with its significant impact on international development assistance and achieving the millennium development goals—is looked on favourably. However, the state should take the necessary steps to ensure that it takes the lead in the fight against poverty, before turning to the private sector.

Philanthropy has the appearance of a new social actor, a stop-gap measure for the state when it comes to poverty. There is cause to question the fine line between traditional, authentic and sincere philanthropy and a sort of strategic philanthropy spurred by financial interests.

Finally, the debate on Bill S-217 provides a good opportunity to remind the government that it must step up its fight against poverty, both at home and abroad, as well as its environmental action. The failures of the state in these areas are the main justification for philanthropy.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2009 / 6:25 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to debate Bill S-217 from Senator Grafstein, and I congratulate him on his work. He will be retiring from the Senate at the end of this year and this bill is certainly a significant achievement for him at the end of his career in the Senate.

It is important to talk about the date of November 15, being close to that of Remembrance Day, in the sense that our legions across the country have for generations provided generous donations for many causes and, in fact, have gone unsung in many respects as a national organization but also as individuals.

Therefore, we as New Democrats support the bill and we believe it is very important that it moves forward.

I can speak about this because I come from a not for profit sector. I worked at Community Living Mississauga, the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities and the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County. I can tell the House that those who are in need, whether they be the poor, persons with disabilities, seniors or other individuals who have been in a time of need, have been strengthened by the generous donations of the volunteers across the country and also those who donate money.

It is not just the people who give out the large sums of money who are often in the headlines. It is also those Canadians who scrape by but who provide generous donations on a regular basis. They perhaps do not get their names in the paper but they need to be recognized as a collective, as we are a very caring society from every city, town and village across the country. In fact, donations in 2007 ranged from around $10 billion in terms of contribution, which was a jump of 12%.

I come from the city of Windsor and Essex county that has had a 15% unemployment rate for a number of years and we have seen continued donations from those individuals. I think of those organizations and the workers who deserve credit. I think of the workers who are at a General Motors transmission plant in my riding. Despite the fact that they will be losing their jobs in a year from now and there is no replacement product, they have come up with hundreds and thousands of dollars in donations for the United Way. They continue to have that commitment to the communities.

I could not stand here today without recognizing some individuals who I think are important. It is an opportunity for us to recognize some of the local achievements that come from our region that bind us as a caring community. I know the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour earlier mentioned some people and I think it is important to add others. I think of Dr. Tayfour from my community, Claire and Anne Winterbottom, Bill and Rochele Tepperman, Tony Toldo and family, Mickey Sholtz and family, Dr. Demers, Gerald Freed and family; Dr. Ismail and Khalida Peer, Dr. Boyd and Jane Boyd, the Woodall family, Dr. Lyanga and Scholastica, and the Taq Taq family. Those are all individuals who have made significant contributions to the Windsor and Essex county area and nationally as well. Some of them have been recognized with the Order of Canada, including Gerald Freed and the Freed family, for their generous donations on a regular basis to our community.

Historically we have also had the Joy family, the Walker family and the Budameir family that have made significant contributions.

Coming from a region that has been decimated by high unemployment, the loss of manufacturing jobs and environmental conditions that are very significant in terms of human health because we are in an industrialized zone and we are in the shadow of the United States, which causes extra pollutants and contaminants and further strains on our social system, I could be no more proud of those individuals and also rallying the thousands and thousands of Windsorites and Essex county people who have given their time and their donations to ensure we have the strength of a civil society that does not leave people behind.

Sadly, governments have not done enough, whether it be provincial or federal, to help the social service infrastructure and it has cost us. It has cost us, not only in needless human suffering and tragedy, but it has also cost us in terms of productivity as a society, and that needs to be reversed, especially during this time.

I also want to note that there are solutions. Nationally I think of Mr. Lazarides from RIM who has donated so much money for sciences and for the advancement of those kinds of solutions for our communities and societies. I think also of the Lewis Foundation with Stephen Lewis who has shown that Canada on the international stage is a nation that cares and actually wears the face of humanity every day trying to make a difference for those who are suffering from AIDS, tuberculosis and other types of diseases. It is important to note that if we did not have that footprint in the world, Canada would be seen much differently than it is today. That is why they need to be recognized. This day, November 15, will provide that opportunity.

I think of the collective groups. I mentioned our legions and the collectivity they have actually performed and punched above their weight in terms of contributions.

I can also think about individuals like Gary Parent from the CAW. He was the Windsor and District Labour Council president who just retired. He has been recognized provincially but I believe he should be recognized nationally for his generous commitment to ensuring people are supported in the community and for his understanding that there is an obligation and interest in the workplace for social justice matters outside in the community to advance the cause of the human race and also of Canada. That is the kind of Canada that I believe in and want to pass on to my children.

Some issues are challenging the government, as well as issues surrounding philanthropy and charitable giving. Because the income tax laws are tied to the charitable laws right now, successive Liberal and Conservative governments have allowed this policy to reduce what one gets back at tax time for a charitable donation.

Why that policy is still in place is beyond me and it needs to be halted. We need to encourage more Canadians to give. It has already been noted that more than half of donors would give more to charities if they could get more back at tax time. It is amazing in terms of what we could do. It needs to be recognized that there are 161,000 not for profit and voluntary organizations in Canada that contribute billions of dollars annually to the economy and employ millions of people across our country who provide services that governments often will not, cannot or should not provide. These organizations come from the community and provide a philosophical basis that is very important in solving problems, whether it be literacy, such as Raise-a-Reader in Windsor, Ontario, from the Windsor Star, or national issues such as cancer and the local issues associated with that.

It is important to note that we can change the laws in this country and I proposed a bill that would do that. It would change the charitable giving returns to an individual. I understand that we cannot do this without a limit. I have proposed a law that would mirror political parties in terms of giving to a charitable organization. I tried to get unanimous consent for it in the House but it was denied by the other parties. I do not understand why, especially given that we seem to have money available during this time of economic crisis.

As things currently stand, lowering the general corporate tax to 15% by 2012 will cost the government $86 billion. That is money out the door that will not connect to the community in any significant degree. I have proposed that charitable organizations that get money from the federal government would mirror political parties. If people give $400 to a political party, they would get 75% of that back at tax time. That goes at a threshold that reduces over the duration but one can give out up to $1,100. I have proposed that we do the same thing for charities and that would provide an economic stimulus to that sector, which has seen its donations reduced by the government over time because of its tie to the income tax law. At the same time, successive governments have been reducing corporate tax cuts.

The estimated cost of this bill would be less than $1 billion. When one thinks about what the government has been doing in terms of financial management and where we could be spending the money, it would virtually go back into our communities. With Canadians already identifying that they would give 50% more back, think about what the churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, registered faith organizations and others like the United Way could do with those resources right now to address the social problems that are escalating because of the current economic fiscal crisis.

I do not understand why the government does not do this. The voluntary sector is a very important hub in the Canadian economy, as well as in our productivity as citizens as we deal with everything from addiction to family, children and seniors issues. That is why my bill should be passed in the House of Commons and it is one that could even be phased in over time if the government does not want to provide the resources right away.

It would not be a direct loss of net revenue. People would be taking those funds and giving back to charities, creating jobs and providing solutions and preventive actions that are necessary to ensure youth do not fall into crime and that seniors get the proper support in their communities so they do not need to be in the hospital. This would ensure a continued contribution by individuals.

I hope the government wakes up to that and delivers a responsible recourse to the voluntary and charitable organizations in this country that have been long forgotten.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2009 / 6:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise today to contribute to the debate on Bill S-217, the national philanthropy day, and to support my hon. colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and also to pay tribute to Senator Jerry Grafstein who created the bill and who is about to retire from the Senate, leaving this as one of his legacies.

Bill S-217 is not a new bill. It has been on the order paper since 2005, and I have been following its fate with interest. I am pleased to see it finally make its way through the parliamentary process.

Bill S-217 establishes November 15 as a special day for philanthropic associations across Canada. National philanthropic days are already held across Canada, involving thousands of citizens every year. This day was initiated at the grassroots level and continues to grow, led by individuals, charities and organizations such as the Association of Fundraising Professionals to celebrate philanthropy.

Canada will lead the world if Parliament adopts the bill and recognizes national philanthropy day on November 15.

There has barely been a facet of Canadian society that has not been touched by philanthropy at some point or in some way. According to Imagine Canada, Canadians collectively donated almost $9 billion to charitable causes in 2006, and that number has grown today.

Philanthropy, however, is more than donating money. It is also about the gift of volunteerism, passion and selflessness. In the spirit of philanthropy, over two billion volunteer hours were donated, and again that number is growing each year.

Philanthropy is about what is in our hearts, not necessarily about what is in our bank accounts or our wallets. Many philanthropists are not donors in the traditional sense, but are champions, advocates and volunteers. There is a continuum of ways people engage in philanthropy, all of which have their own merits.

As described by Imagine Canada's foundation research in its “Philanthropic Success Stories in Canada”, philanthropy can be that which tackled unpopular issues such as: HIV-AIDS, homelessness or mental illness; were not done for personal glory or recognition; supported pioneering, innovation and were often ahead of the curve; addressed the root causes of a problem or drew on the expertise of those working in the field; engaged and inspired the wider community; demonstrated long-term commitment; or acted as a spark or a catalyst for long-lasting social change. Canadians feel that philanthropy has achieved many of these things.

In my career, prior to being elected as the member for Mississauga—Streetsville, I, too, profoundly believed in the merits of philanthropy, its ability to make a change and impact in our society and became a passionate community activist and fundraiser. For me, giving back to the community with my time and energy was a worthwhile endeavour.

I have raised money for many worthy charities, organizations and causes, all of which, unable to meet the growing needs of their budgets through government grants and subsidies, turned to individual or corporate donors for support.

I first became involved in my children's schools when school boards and provincial governments could not adequately fund the need for sports equipment, new technology or textbooks. From there I became involved in Arts Umbrella, a visual and performing arts institute in British Columbia, to help support its programming and outreach activities. I joined its board and enjoyed my time there, continuing to assist with the growth of that organization. I enjoyed my time immensely.

Soon after a dear friend, Madeleine, was in a tragic car accident and suffered a brain injury, a devastating yet invisible injury, suddenly changing the course of her life forever. I was compelled to act to assist her and others like her with their plight. I joined the board of the Brain Injury Association of Ontario and I acted as its fund development chair. I also worked with the national Brain Injury Association to assist with its fundraising.

Within my own community, I became aware of the escalating demands and chronic shortages of our health care system and wanted to find a way to contribute. I joined to assist the Foundation of Mississauga's Credit Valley Hospital to raise money and help build a regional cancer centre, the ambulatory care centre and the maternal care centre, ensuring that our community had world-class treatment.

I continue however, wherever and whenever I can to assist in causes I believe in, from the Cancer Society, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the United Way, Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, breakfast programs, et cetera, because contributing to causes which help friends and help build a stronger and healthier community is the right thing to do.

The achievements of philanthropy are diverse, spanning all aspects of Canadian society, such as health, housing, education, social services, the environment and international issues, which demonstrates the widespread impact that philanthropy has had both in Canada and abroad.

Let me illustrate how philanthropy has helped our community in some very profound ways.

In fostering innovation, philanthropist and businessman Alan Broadbent helped found the Maytree Foundation and the Caledon Institute for Social Policy. Both of these organizations were influential in finding innovative and efficient means of addressing emerging social problems. Caledon achieved the implementation of 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.

Philanthropy also helps to build strong and vibrant communities. The Community Foundation of Mississauga, for example, is a local foundation created in 2001 for and by the people of Mississauga. It offers people a variety of ways to make a difference through philanthropic giving. The Community Foundation of Mississauga is one of more than 155 community foundations in Canada and has granted $750,000 over the past three years in areas such as children and youth, the environment, heritage preservation and building strong communities.

Because community foundations are attuned to the needs of the community, they are capable of addressing local issues in some very creative ways.

Philanthropy has also had an important influence in the development of Canada's health care system, including its hospitals and community-based health services, such as helping to create services for populations that are not adequately serviced by traditional programs.

A couple of examples include Casey House Hospice, which provides palliative care to those suffering from HIV/AIDS. Founded by June Callwood, it was the first of its kind in the world. The Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care in Mississauga, founded by Dr. Joseph Wong, provides care that is culturally and linguistically attuned to Chinese values and traditions.

In addition, philanthropy plays an integral role in raising awareness of a number of health issues and in generating funds for research, at times having a hand in many of the world's most significant medical breakthroughs. One of the most famous Canadian contributions to medicine, Banting's discovery of insulin, had philanthropic roots.

The Terry Fox Marathon of Hope taught Canadians about cancer and to date has raised $23.4 million for research.

The gene that causes cystic fibrosis would not have been identified without the financial support of donors to health charities like the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Philanthropy has been involved in providing social assistance for many years. Before the great depression, this was provided predominantly by the church. One of the earliest umbrella organizations in Canada, the Community Chest, was a product of various religious charities banding together to raise funds for their community. This organization became the United Way of Canada.

Philanthropy has also made important contributions to the affordable housing movement in Canada. Habitat for Humanity prides itself on not receiving any government funding. Just two weeks ago I had the pleasure of cutting the ribbon on the first Habitat for Humanity home in Mississauga, built by the community for the community.

It is difficult to imagine a part of society that has not been touched in some way by philanthropy.

There is a general consensus among philanthropy experts that it is about more than just writing a cheque. The most highly regarded philanthropists are not those who donate vast sums of money. Rather the ideal philanthropist takes risks and tackles unpopular issues, gives selflessly of themselves, makes long-term commitments to causes and has no expectation of recognition or a return on his or her investment.

I speak personally when I tell the House that philanthropists gain a sense of personal satisfaction and fulfilment. They learn new skills, meet new people and feel appreciated or recognized for doing so. For others, it is a lasting legacy.

National philanthropy day is about just that, setting aside a day to recognize those who give so much of themselves. That is why I support the bill. I call on all parliamentarians to support it as well.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 20th, 2009 / 6:45 p.m.
See context

North Vancouver B.C.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-217 reminds us of the important role philanthropy plays in the lives of Canadians. There is barely a part of our society that has not been touch by it at some point and in some way.

Canada has a rich history of giving that goes back to the pioneers of Quebec City when the first homes were being built for women and children in the mid-1600s.

The philanthropic spirit that fuels our communities is one of the essential values that are dear to us.

Today, I would like to look to the past to admire the generosity of those Canadians who, in pursuing their ideal, helped shape our country and define the humanitarian spirit that is now at the very heart of our Canadian identity.

Many of these early philanthropists were spurred into action by what was happening in the world around them. With the desire to make a difference and to improve conditions, they often partook in surprisingly ambitious work.

One of the most famous Canadian contributions to medicine, the discovery of insulin, had philanthropic roots. In 1922 there were no research grants for medicine and a young doctor by the name of Frederick Banting acted as his own benefactor, selling his car to finance his research in diabetes.

Banting's discovery expanded the frontiers of medicine and improved the lives of millions of people around the world. In 1923 Banting received the Nobel Prize in medicine, but he never received income for his discovery. He had sold the rights to insulin for $1 in order to ensure that the drug would be accessible to all those who needed it. He put the needs of others before his own.

Banting had unlocked the mystery in the treatment of diabetes. He discovered a Canadian medical miracle of the 20th century.

Philanthropy also helped shape the health care services available to Canadians. In the fight against tuberculosis, Canadians like Sir William Gage financed free sanatoria across the country, as well as the salaries of the first tuberculosis nurses. Eventually, the service was taken over by the public health departments and the Victorian Order of Nurses.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Jean Vanier, son of a Governor General of Canada, Georges Vanier, and founder of the international federation of L'Arche communities for people with intellectual disabilities.

Jean Vanier had a compelling vision of what it meant to live a life guided completely by the humanitarian spirit and he was celebrated as a Canadian who inspired the entire world. He won acclaim for his social and spiritual leadership and for increasing public awareness of the suffering of marginalized people.

While some have dedicated their lives to improving society and advancing health research and care, others have used their work to change society little by little.

There were others like Vancouver secretary Alice MacKay, who in 1944 set aside $1,000 of her salary to help homeless women. Her gift inspired a local industrialist to donate $10,000 and encourage nine of his friends to do the same. Together their donations helped to start the Vancouver Foundation. Today it is now the largest community foundation in Canada and the fifth largest in North America.

Her kindness represents a milestone in the history of philanthropy in Canada. Because of her, community foundations are now an integral part of our daily lives. They help to lay the groundwork for strong and vibrant communities. They are attuned to the needs of the community. They are capable of addressing local issues in creative ways. They survive on the donations and hard work of our citizens and they give back to those who give, like Alice MacKay.

Decades after her wish was made a reality, the Vancouver Foundation founded Canada's first youth in philanthropy program to better involve young people in their communities and in philanthropy. It quickly became a model for other community foundations across Canada and the world.

By recognizing this day, by recognizing the important work of Canadians who have demonstrated their generosity, this is a day that belongs to all Canadians, not just the Government of Canada. This is a day that we have declared our support for and, within its very core, our desire to unite our citizens in the common humanity and the values that are vital for the continuing development of the societies in which we live: freedom, peace, respect, justice and tolerance.

National Philanthropy Day ActRoutine Proceedings

June 3rd, 2009 / 4:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

moved that Bill S-217, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day, be read the first time.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to bring the bill, which passed in the other place, into this place. I want to thank my colleague from Nipissing—Timiskaming, a wonderful philanthropist.

It is important that we recognize the work of philanthropy. As somebody who has spent a lot of time working for not-for-profit organizations, like a lot of members in the House, I recognize the importance of those who give of their money as well as other resources to make Canada a better place.

I want to thank Senator Grafstein, who is a great philanthropist and who has raised a lot of money for worthy causes, and my good friend Senator Mercer, who has been a long-time champion of philanthropy.

We look forward to making November 15 national philanthropy day.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

National Philanthropy Day ActRoutine Proceedings

June 3rd, 2009 / 4:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I appreciate the remarks of the previous speaker, but these rules will govern all members of the House. I have personally not had a chance to read them. I think all members should have a chance to read the rules that govern them.

I know the member is doing what he has been told to do, but this member is saying that all members should have an opportunity to read the rules that we govern ourselves by. A quick concurrence does not do the job for me. Therefore, I am going to withhold consent for that reason. I respect the hon. member's attempt to get the rules passed quickly.

National Philanthropy Day ActRoutine Proceedings

June 3rd, 2009 / 4:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It may well be that what the hon. gentleman is asking for in terms of unanimous consent can be given and the matter can be proceeded with. However, in the absence of the normal type of consultation, it cannot be sprung on the House without notice. We are happy to look at it. We are happy to give consent. Maybe that can be done later today. However, the normal consultation needs to take place.