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.