Madam Speaker, I want to thank all the members for their consideration of my private member's bill, Bill C-239, the fairness in charitable gifts act. I know I have support in all the parties. I do not know how much support, but I know that all the parties have members who have indicated that they will support the bill, and for that I thank them.
It is an honour for me to rise in the House today to talk about my bill. I wish I could spend a bit more time talking about some of the information that was given here this evening to clarify some of the statistics and numbers. However, I do not have that much time, so I will stick to the speech I have prepared, and hopefully we can move this bill on to committee for further study to evaluate its merits.
This is a fair bill, it is a bill that would benefit all Canadians, and it is a bill that would foster a culture of generosity from coast to coast. The aim of the bill is to strengthen charities and encourage Canadians to engage with and promote charities. This is a non-partisan bill. This is not a bill for rich people. It would hardly benefit rich people or those who are making big donations. It is a bill that, for the most part, would help the middle class. That is something the government has said it is all about, helping the middle class, and that is what this bill is about.
The impact charities make across Canada, in all of our communities, is evident. It was most recently demonstrated during the recent forest fires in Fort McMurray. The lives of tens of thousands of Canadians were turned upside down. Yet through all that devastation, the Canadian Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and many other charitable groups rose to the challenge and were there to help.
The help from charities will continue. Long after the government, long after the cameras, long after the media are gone, the charities will be there to continue that good work to help the residents of Fort McMurray recover from the trauma. They will help them rebuild their homes and re-establish their shattered lives. Where would the residents of Fort McMurray be without these charities?
Bill C-239 is a bill that would inspire Canadians and foster a culture of generosity, a characteristic that I believe is central to our country and its people, a characteristic that has been evident in the support for Fort McMurray.
The bill would make it more affordable for Canadians to donate to charitable causes. Causes that do not get national media attention and do not catch the eye of the camera are often just as individually devastating to the people experiencing them as the fires in Fort McMurray. They just do not happen to capture the attention of the national media.
Every day, every night, right across Canada, tragedies happen. Folks lose their jobs, illness attacks, families are broken, and people's lives are shattered.
However, there is good news. The good news is that charities are there to provide food for the hungry, beds for the homeless, help for the hurting, support for the aging, and hope for the sick.
Where would we all be without charities?
Canadian charities do more than just that, though. They do more than just crisis intervention, more than just assistance to those folks who are needy. They conduct and advance scientific research. They promote medical research. They promote education. They promote care of our environment. The list could go on and on. Charities have also been instrumental in the resettling of refugee families. We heard from our immigration minister today the way charities right across Canada have ponied up, have come to the table, and are waiting for the refugees. They have made commitments to help settle these folks. That is what charities here in Canada do.
Yet despite all this good work they do and the incredible impact charities have on our lives, the fact remains that charities all cite a lack of funding as the number one reason for their inability to do more.
Canadian charities are faced with an aging and ever-declining donor base. In fact, the number of Canadians donating to charities and filing charitable donations on their tax returns has dropped from a high of 29.5% to 21.4% over the past 25 years. The donor base is declining, and that is something this bill would address.
The bill would incur a cost for our government. There would be a dip in revenue. However, what would cost even more and what we cannot afford is a capability gap in our charities due to a lack of donations.
When surveyed by Statistics Canada, 71% of Canadians stated that the number one reason they do not give is the lack of money. They simply cannot afford to give more.
How are we going to address that challenge?
Currently, the federal tax credits for political donations far exceed the federal tax credits for donations to charities.
As I am out of time, I would like to conclude by encouraging members in this House to support the bill and get it to committee where we can continue to study further its merits and make this happen.