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.


In committee (House), as of Feb. 1, 2011
(This bill did not become law.)


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”.


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

February 1st, 2011 / 5:30 p.m.
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Bonnie Crombie Liberal 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.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

February 1st, 2011 / 5:40 p.m.
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Fin Donnelly NDP 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 ActPrivate Members' Business

February 1st, 2011 / 5:50 p.m.
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Candice Bergen Conservative 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 ActPrivate Members' Business

February 1st, 2011 / 5:55 p.m.
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Linda Duncan NDP 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 ActPrivate Members' Business

February 1st, 2011 / 6:05 p.m.
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Earl Dreeshen Conservative 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 ActPrivate Members' Business

February 1st, 2011 / 6:15 p.m.
See context


Jim Maloway NDP 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 ActPrivate Members' Business

October 21st, 2010 / 5:15 p.m.
See context


Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

moved that Bill S-203, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand in the House this evening and bring forward a private member's bill that stands in my name. The bill comes from the other place and is called an act respecting a national philanthropy day.

This will come as interesting news to most Canadians, insomuch as many Canadians believe there already is a National Philanthropy Day, and in fact there is. Last year, November 15 was declared as the first National Philanthropy Day. Our Minister of Heritage at that point made that declaration. Today we are now talking about putting legislation through to backstop that commitment by our Minister of Heritage, declaring November 15 henceforth as National Philanthropy Day.

There are a number of people in our country who know what philanthropy is and who philanthropists are. However, it is important for us to go through this. I will give my perspective of who I believe are the philanthropists, what makes them unique and why it is important that we have a day that recognizes the contributions of those individuals.

As I was thinking about what makes a philanthropist or what is philanthropy, I started to think about my upbringing and what my thoughts were when I heard of philanthropy, or when I started to understand what that word meant. To a great degree, I heard the word used in newscasts. I would hear about a philanthropist who had done this or a philanthropist who had done that. Usually these were people who had great wealth and were making contributions or large gifts in kind to institutions. These were worthwhile and they were important declarations and contributions to important institutions. When I started to think about this, I wondered if that was the only type of philanthropist.

Canadians need to have an inclusive view of who philanthropists are and what philanthropy is. I would use the definition that a philanthropist is somebody who will give of themselves to another person to benefit another person's life.

It is important for us to consider all of those people who continue, on a daily, monthly and weekly basis, to give time, energy and dollars to causes in which they believe. It is important we become very inclusive as to who we are declaring philanthropists as part of this legislation and what in fact philanthropy is.

When I was in Sunday school, I heard the story of a widow who came to give an offering. She had a couple of copper coins and she gave them. There were other people who were giving great gifts. They were giving large amounts of money. I remember the story ended with the declaration that the person who had given the most was the person who had given what most of us would have thought was the least. The lady who had given her last couple of coins she needed to survive on had given freely. The other people, while their gifts were much larger, had given out of their wealth. They had only given a part of what they owned. We have to recognize that there are those people who every day give of themselves, give more than they probably can afford to give to make somebody else's life better.

When I think of my own upbringing, my family was a family that gave. When I was younger, my parents did not have a lot. My brothers and I have this ongoing joke that if there was a pie, or muffins, or cinnamon buns sitting on the counter, we would always have to ask if they were for us or for the neighbours. The joke is that we were a bunch of hungry boys and we basically starved because more often than not, it was for the neighbours. To this day, we go over to my mom's house and we often pester my her by asking if the food on the table is for us or if it is for the neighbours.

This has become a joke in our family because, in truth, my mom is one of those philanthropists, those people who stand up and say, “It does not matter what is going on in my own life. I am going to encourage somebody else by giving my time and energy to support someone who could really use it”.

Interestingly, two weeks ago I arrived home and my wife was making cinnamon buns with my daughters. I walked in and grabbed at one of the pans of cinnamon buns, and my wife said, “No, don't take those”. I asked why not and she said they were for the neighbours. I guess history repeats itself, and I am proud that virtue is being taught and passed on to my kids. It is something that I think most members in the House can relate to at one level or another.

Our government believes very strongly in the opportunities that should be available, and we should make it easier for people to give to the causes they strongly believe in. Over the last number of budgets, our government has brought in different initiatives that have made it easier for Canadians to give donations of different types to charities of their choice. There is now an opportunity for people to pass on investments with tax provisions for those donations.

We also have an opportunity in this country now to make contributions of gifts in kind of lands that are to be protected for ecological reasons. Our government believes that while it can do important things about the gaps in our social safety net and a number of other things, it is not the only partner in this effort. There need to be opportunities and encouragement for people to stand and support their neighbours and important causes as well.

Our Prime Minister and finance minister have led by example through bringing forward legislation, but one of the more poignant moments in the last couple of years that gripped all Canadians was the earthquake in Haiti. There was an outpouring by Canadians for the people who were suffering in Haiti, having experienced one of the most devastating natural disasters I can recall. This, of course, was on top of the fact that they had so little to begin with.

I recall very clearly that people lined up to make donations. It was not just people who were wealthy. It was people from all walks of life. It was such an encouragement to see our Prime Minister standing in line with his wife making a personal donation to this cause. This is a demonstration of what it is to be a philanthropist.

In my own community I saw countless people lined up to volunteer for different charity events and provide their support. There were kids clubs in my constituency that believed they might be able to contribute to help in the devastation in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.

More recently, Canadians had the opportunity to donate to causes in Newfoundland. There was a group of students in my constituency that gave to Haiti, which was important because it saw the devastation there, but another group said it saw a lady on the news who had lost her house and it wanted to find out who she was because it wanted to help her. These young people are also philanthropists; they are demonstrating philanthropy.

We know the devastation that many people in Africa have experienced as a result of natural disasters and a number of other things, including the AIDS epidemic and the mismanagement of many of the nations in terms of governance. Many people in our country have stood alongside these folks in different ways.

This past Christmas, I had an opportunity to hold a fundraiser in my constituency for an orphanage in Africa. It is an orphanage that predominantly brings in kids who are orphaned as a result of AIDS.

We as a community raised in excess of $20,000 at a breakfast. We then did a number of other things. In the end we raised more than $250,000 to help support this orphanage that now cares for more than 2,200 kids on a daily basis.

Philanthropy comes in many ways, shapes and forms, and of course there is the legacy that has been established in Canada. Most predominantly, when we look back on the history of this great nation, we can look at the legacy of church groups and church organizations in our country. We look at the Catholic Church, which established missions early on in the exploration and development of this country, and many of those groups continue today to do good work. We look to a number of other churches that may have less of a history in this nation, but are doing important work, when we look at inner city ministries, when we look at the Salvation Army that continues to reach out to those most in need.

When we look at these different organizations and these groups that do amazing work, we can see that they are philanthropists all the way through their process. If it be the people who are standing to collect the money, if be it the Salvation Army bell ringer in the local supermarket, if it be the person who is out there collecting donations of clothes, furniture or different things to be sold at the thrift stores, if it be the people who bring food from their homes so that they can be served at soup kitchens or the people who write the cheque to help support these things, there are so many different philanthropists along the way.

I believe that if we are to have a bill that recognizes philanthropy and philanthropists in this country, we have to make it absolutely clear that we will recognize all of these people. It is not to be the recognition of those people who would otherwise have statues of bronze located at the entrances of hospitals, or those people who will be on the front pages of the newspaper as they hand over their $4 million cheques for a good cause. These people are absolutely important and we want to recognize them in this legislation, but we also want to recognize those people who give out of their poverty, in time, in money or in some other manifestation. I think it is important that we as Canadians make that declaration clear as we proceed with the recognition of philanthropists and philanthropy in this country on November 15.

This summer I had the unfortunate opportunity to spend a fair bit of time at the University of Alberta Hospital. My brother, who is just younger than I, was diagnosed with leukemia. I would spend a fair bit of time there on the weekends. As I was walking through the hospital in between treatments, I noticed that there were several opportunities at every corridor to recognize people who had made contributions.

At that point I knew I would be bringing forward this bill in the House, and I thought it was interesting, so I spent a fair bit of time to try to understand a little bit about the people who were recognized on these walls. Very, very quickly I recognized that there were people of all walks of life, both rich and poor, who had given. That is one of the great things about philanthropy. It is the one place we can all contribute. It is the most democratic exercise of supporting fellow Canadians and fellow citizens in this world.

It is my privilege to support and to bring forward this bill in the House of Commons, and I hope members from all parties will help recognize the men and women who have and who will continue to build this country into the great country that it is.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 21st, 2010 / 5:30 p.m.
See context


Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I applaud the speech my colleague has made on philanthropy.

This Liberal bill has been a very important bill that has come from the Senate. Senators Grafstein and Mercer have worked on this for a number of years and put a lot of time into it. I am hopeful that everybody in the House will support it.

I want to ask him about one specific issue, just to get his point of view in terms of giving. As all members know, there is a very different benefit to giving money to politics than there is to giving money to charities in Canada. It is a much greater tax credit for supporting political parties, because politicians make the rules.

I wonder if my colleague would be supportive of changing the tax laws so that giving to the Heart and Stroke Foundation or the local food bank would be of equal benefit at tax time as giving to a political party.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 21st, 2010 / 5:30 p.m.
See context


Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member has long supported this bill, and I do thank him for his support and his continued effort. Had I not scrambled to bring this bill forward in the House, I know it would have fallen under my colleague's name. It's wonderful to see, on a bill like this, that we can work together across party lines.

In terms of the tax credit, I think this is an issue that we as parliamentarians do need to address. I think there are people from all sides who believe that there need to be some changes in this respect.

Today as we are talking about philanthropy and philanthropists, I think it is important to recognize that people do not give in this country simply because they get a tax credit. Yes, it is good, and yes, it is a benefit, but people give because they believe in helping others. This bill is to recognize those people who give of themselves for the benefit of somebody else.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 21st, 2010 / 5:30 p.m.
See context


Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member will know that in 2008, because of the recession, charitable donations in both the United States and Canada took a substantial drop. The member will also know that billionaires such Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have not only committed to give half of their net worth to charities, while they are alive or upon death, but they have challenged other billionaires in the United States to follow suit. They have a fairly substantial group on board on this.

I am not aware of any similar activity in Canada on that front. Could the member tell me if he is aware of any activities on the part of billionaires in Canada to get together and follow what Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are spearheading in the United States?

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 21st, 2010 / 5:30 p.m.
See context


Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, to be quite frank, I do not know any billionaires. I do not know many Canadians who do. There are a few in the country, and I leave it to them to make decisions as to how they will give.

Philanthropy and philanthropists are characterized not by being forced by somebody, by moral suasion or other things, but by making a decision in and of themselves to give. I think it is absolutely important that we move from the recognition of just the billionaires and millionaires and recognize people who give, full stop, regardless of the size of the donation. There are people in this country who give day in and day out of their time and effort.

There is a famous saying that success is measured not by what you have but by what you give. It should be measured by that. I subscribe to that and I think the hon. member does.

In terms of billionaires, I do not know any and I do not know if there is any plan for them to give. However, we need to recognize all the people who give, and that is why I think this bill is important. I think it is important that all members of Parliament endorse the idea that we recognize all those people who continue to give in and of themselves.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 21st, 2010 / 5:35 p.m.
See context


Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill S-203. The history of this bill goes back a ways.

For a number of years, Senator Jerry Grafstein and Senator Mercer have been working on producing this bill so that we can officially make November 15 philanthropy day in Canada. Both senators have a long history of philanthropic involvement, community involvement, and giving back to the community. They worked very hard at this.

In the last House it was S-217. It passed the Senate. It came to this place, and we moved it through the House. Then, and after prorogation it died and came back as S-203. It went to the Senate again, and I intended to bring it forward. As the member from Peace River said, he scrambled a bit and brought it forward.

The bottom line is that we now have an opportunity to come together as a Parliament and get this bill through.

It is important. It matters to many people. Like everyone in the House, I guess, I have been involved in a lot of not-for-profit organizations. I have been the President of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia, and I have served on the national board. I have worked with literacy, food banks, junior achievement, CNIB, and a number of organizations. We come to meet some fabulous people who give an awful lot to their communities.

When I travel in my own community, I am constantly amazed at the dedicated work that people do every day, like the people who gather in a church in the north end of Dartmouth every Wednesday to provide food to the poor. There are people like Doris McArcher, who has a clothing depot in a church in Dartmouth, where she collects clothes for people who need them. She does not ask them if they need help. In the winter, she provides the coats, pants, scarves, and hats because she knows that if people come to get her help it is because they need it.

A lot of faith-based people are doing this kind of work. They do this in the belief that God would want them to. There are people who do not believe in God who also do this kind of work. Whatever the motivation, these good people should be recognized.

In my own life, I have two active children who play hockey and soccer. They paddle on the great lakes in Dartmouth--Cole Harbour. My daughter is in Brownies, tennis, and golf. Even at the school, it is important to have volunteers because of the crisis in funding these days. None of these things would be possible without people who would coach, manage, and do the kinds of things that make it possible for kids to enjoy the activities that we want them to be part of.

In the church I go to, there are people like my wife who teach Sunday school, there are people in the choir, and there are people who fill other roles. These are all philanthropic acts and they are important.

We should never diminish the importance of people who give money. It is so important to give to those who do not have. My sister is involved in the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She is a fundraiser with the Canadian Cancer Society and is involved in AFP organizations like Imagine Canada, which is helping to build the philanthropic sector.

We know that recent times have been challenging. An Imagine Canada report from last August quotes a few statistics on the difficulties that charities are facing. For example, more than half of charities are experiencing increased demand for their products and services. Compared with 2009, more charities are reporting that they are at risk, experiencing increased demand, or both. The percentage of charities under high stress has increased to 17%. The financial situation of many charities has stagnated or deteriorated slightly. On average, charities report that revenues have dropped by 1.1%, while expenditures have risen by almost 4%.

It is always a challenge to get people to work in the not-for-profit sector, but now it is particularly difficult. Operating charities report that the average number of paid staff has decreased by 4.4%. In spite of the challenges, however, the level of confidence is high.

As a group, charity leaders are remarkably confident in the future, because the people who work in charities, in the not-for-profit sector, are optimistic people. They see the challenges but they do not shy away from them. They see the obstacles, but they decide that they are going to overcome them.

I think that this is an important thing. My colleague from Peace River spoke about growing up in his family. In my own family, which was a large, kind of boisterous family, we belonged to the Foster Parents Plan. We would make our donations, and we would write letters back and forth to understand what was happening with children in other parts of the world who were not quite so fortunate.

It is interesting to look at who gives money in Canada. It is not always people in big cities. It is not always people with deep pockets. Quite often it is people in places like Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and Pictou County. Some of the people one would think are not doing well economically are the ones who pitch in and help. It is part of the ethic of growing up in a small community. It is the old ethic of pitching in and helping out. If somebody's house is on fire, the place is rebuilt. If somebody needs help, a bake sale is held. The spirit of giving that seems to exist in many parts of small-town Canada carries on today.

There is no question that there are challenges in the fundraising sector for the not-for-profit organizations. People who raise money, like Peter Bessey from Scotiabank, who is heading up a campaign for the Canadian Cancer Society in Nova Scotia, face certain challenges. We have the power in this place to recognize these people. We can use the power that comes with being a member of Parliament. We know that what these people do matters. We know that what they do builds a better country. It is important that we take the opportunity, like the one that presents itself in Bill S-203, to recognize the people who build a better world.

Earlier this year, I had the chance to speak here about a woman named Ruth Goldbloom, who was the driving force behind Pier 21. My leader, the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, had a chance to go to Pier 21. He had a chance to connect with relatives in his past. Pier 21 would not have happened if Ruth Goldbloom had not been the driving force. Ruth recognizes that all the people who have worked at Pier 21 are important, whether they have given $1 million, as seven people have, or whether they work in the gift shop to help people when they visit Pier 21. She believes that all these people deserve to be recognized.

The voluntary sector in Canada is huge and it cannot be replaced by paid work. It cannot be replaced by people who do things professionally. It cannot be replaced because there is not the commitment, the optimism, and the sheer dedication that happens in the voluntary sector in Canada. It is incumbent upon this House to recognize the people who do that work and in some way tell them that we appreciate them.

I am looking at an article in the Toronto Star entitled “Women are Changing the Face of Philanthropy”. The article refers to the hon. Margaret Norrie McCain, who is a great philanthropist in Nova Scotia. I will quote from this article:

Many women today use their influence to give more strategically, and in different ways, than men or women did in the past....They have adopted new models, such as giving circles, to bring like-minded donors together to pool their resources in support of a common cause. “Women give to organizations that they have some connection with,” says Maria Antonakos of Opus Philanthropic Strategies Inc.

Philanthropy has been around a long time in many different ways at many different levels. But it does change. It does reflect the marketplace. When we have a recession, as we have had over the last couple of years and continue to have, it hurts, and it disproportionately hurts organizations that deal with those people who need the most help.

We should recognize the work that people do. We should recognize those who give in small ways, but also the people who give big money, like those in my own community: the Risleys, the Rowes, the O'Regans, the Fountains, the Goldblooms, the Sobeys, the Jodeys, the Keatings, the McFees and Smithers, the Conrad family, the Spatsis, the Flemings, the Edwards, and the Dennis family, who own the Chronicle Herald.

These are the people who build Canada. Their work cannot be replaced. It is not about financially rewarding the people who are raising money. It is incumbent upon us and the Parliament of Canada to tell them that we understand what they do, we know it is important, we know it builds a better country. It builds a better community for all of us. We want to say thanks by making November 15 philanthropy day in Canada. I urge all members to support this bill.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 21st, 2010 / 5:45 p.m.
See context


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on Bill S-203. By the way, I rose in this House in support of this bill exactly one year ago today.

My party supports this bill. We are in favour of this initiative and we hope that it will provide a way not only of recognizing the contributions of numerous Quebeckers and Canadians who live by the values of generosity, altruism and compassion, but also of encouraging more people to give generously.

As many colleagues who have risen before me have said, these values are learned when people are very young. Often, it is our parents who teach us to be generous. The hon. member who introduced this bill in the House said that he had been taught generosity at a young age. I think that this was also true in my father’s case. He was a policeman and he taught us that some families did not have food. And so when he had enough money, he was able to help little children by giving them a small reward, as no one in their homes was in a position to give them any cash.

Many Quebeckers live by the principle of generosity. It goes without saying that it would be hard to stand up in this House and argue against the creation of such a day, not only because these groups promote values, such as generosity, altruism and compassion, but also because November 15 is already a familiar date in North America. The Association of Fundraising Professionals, an organization that originated in the United States and now comprises over 200 chapters worldwide, including one in Quebec, has been celebrating this day since 1990 as a way of highlighting the contribution of philanthropists, who make the planet a richer place. Philanthropy is also about enriching the heart.

This bill, if passed, will make official the event that occurs every year on November 15, an event that Quebec, Canadian and international organizations already celebrate. The recognition of this House will only serve to give the day even more weight. It will give it even more credibility and, I hope, will make more people aware of the benefits of philanthropy.

Now, what in this bill exactly might help to increase awareness among people, and encourage them to engage in philanthropic endeavours? Allow me to talk a little about the situation in Quebec in this regard, so that people can get a better sense of why it is appropriate to increase public awareness of philanthropy.

Traditionally, Quebeckers gave less because they felt it was up to the state or the church to provide 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 to identify individuals or private companies that worked full-time in philanthropic endeavours. That is no longer true today, because we are seeing a shift from traditional philanthropy to much more strategic philanthropy where upper-class individuals try to apply business models to charitable organizations to achieve concrete results.

With the waning of the church and the rise of the welfare state, Quebeckers felt it was the state's responsibility to look after the poor. Little by little, though, philanthropic organizations developed, were recognized by the public and raised awareness of their causes.

For a long time, Quebeckers were considered to be less generous, but nowadays, Quebeckers are giving more and more to charitable organizations. Huge donations of over $500,000 are on the rise. But Quebeckers are known for making small donations. Fifty-one per cent of them give between $1 and $2,000. This was reflected in the donations made following the earthquake in Haiti. More people in Quebec than in the rest of Canada made donations, but Quebeckers' donations were smaller. So I do have to qualify what I said.

According to a generosity index measured by Épisode, a fundraising consulting firm and Léger Marketing, Quebeckers are still half as generous as other Canadians. On average, they give $220, compared to $437 for other Canadians. While 76% of Canadians gave to charity in 2009, only 69% of Quebeckers did.

This statement may not be entirely correct. It is misleading to say that Quebeckers are less generous than other Canadians. They might make a number of donations that they never claim on their taxes.

We see here that Quebeckers donate, but might not claim as much on their taxes. Whether this statement is true or false, this debate about whether Quebeckers are generous or not from a philanthropic point of view, illustrates the need to raise more public awareness about the benefits of philanthropy.

It is impossible to ignore the significant support from philanthropists in society, both regionally and globally in areas where government does not meet public needs. Today, needs are great and measures from the Canadian government and other governments are not successfully reducing poverty, either domestically or internationally. Instead of addressing the problem, governments prefer to rely on altruistic or strategic humanitarian agencies to make up for the shortfall.

This means that we cannot only count on philanthropy to help everyone. The government still has a very important role to play, but it comes up short and ends up relying more and more on philanthropists to provide aid and services. Let us use this day as an opportunity to remind the Canadian government of the aid and services it has to provide the public.

For example, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the gap between the rich and the middle and poorer classes has grown steadily in the past 10 years. This is a concern, and the public should not have to carry the burden.

I believe that the general public steps up to the plate when a charity asks for help or when an agency asks for support for its cause to help research in areas such as health, for instance.

We know that people give generously. Just think of the Multiple Sclerosis Society or Alzheimer's Society. I often participate in the events that they organize in my riding. It is evident that people are interested in this issue. We also see that the government has failed to provide adequate resources, whether for research or to help organizations that establish activities requiring the support of many volunteers.

It would also be a day to think about all the volunteers who work for these organizations, who give generously of their time, and who believe in these activities and in improving living conditions.

In my riding, the Fondation Gilles Kègle comes to mind. Gilles Kègle is a street nurse who provides a great deal of help to the most disadvantaged. Without the support of the general public who donate to this foundation, he would never be able to help as many people as he does. Furthermore, without the help of the hundreds of volunteers, this generosity would not be as effective. We know that this organization meets a very great need. In this context, philanthropy is a new social actor. I am also thinking about the new shift from traditional philanthropy to strategic philanthropy.

Earlier on, a colleague spoke—I no longer remember the name of his riding—and he said that he did not know any rich people in Canada who could give very generously. I would like to point out that the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon innovated by creating a social PPP, a philanthropic public partnership, with the Government of Quebec. This led to the creation of the Québec en forme program, which establishes various networks of schools, child care facilities, CLSCs and community organizations in order to encourage healthy lifestyles for children from the most disadvantaged areas. We have witnessed the development of new ways to better help society and we have the utmost respect for what the Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon has undertaken.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 21st, 2010 / 5:55 p.m.
See context


Charlie Angus NDP 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.

National Philanthropy Day ActPrivate Members' Business

October 21st, 2010 / 6:05 p.m.
See context


Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Conservative 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.