CPJ Joins the Call for Aid for Canadian Charities

This week, CPJ joined over 150 charities, an Emergency Coalition of Canadian Charities, in calling for urgent financial aid and federal action to prevent charitable organizations from suffering irreparable damage amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 25, 2020

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, PC, MP Prime Minister of Canada
Hon. Chrystia Freeland, PC, MP Deputy Prime Minister
Hon. Navdeep Bains, PC, MP Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, PC, MP President of the Treasury Board
Hon. Diane Lebouthillier, PC, MP Minister of National Revenue
Hon. Bill Morneau, PC, MP Minister of Finance
Hon. Carla Qualtrough, PC, MP Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and Ministers:

As a coalition of over 150 leaders from Canadian charities, we are writing to request urgent financial aid and federal action to prevent our organizations from suffering irreparable damage amid the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when more and more Canadians and vulnerable families throughout the world will be in desperate need of our services.

Canada’s charities are a vital part of the Canadian economy, contributing more than eight percent of Canada’s GDP ($162 billion in 2017) and employing more than ten percent (1.4 million) of working Canadians. But our work is best evident in what we do in our communities and to support the most vulnerable at home and abroad. During the COVID-19 crisis, we will be on the frontlines providing shelter and food for the homeless, protecting seniors and youth, helping women fleeing violence, supporting healthcare and mental health, strengthening education and the environment, and helping vulnerable children and families at home and around the world. Our work will be critical to maintaining the social cohesion necessary for the fight against COVID-19 and the survival and recovery of Canadians and communities everywhere as we confront this enormous crisis together.

The COVID-19 crisis and the resulting economic fallout is threatening to quickly destroy Canada’s charitable sector. Without immediate support from the Government of Canada, most Canadian charities will be forced to lay off substantial numbers of employees, will no longer be able to support vulnerable people and communities, and many will face a significant likelihood of total and permanent closure.

Charities are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis because our organizations rely on a
steady stream of donations, business support and government investments to survive. All of these
revenue sources have been disrupted and are under threat. To appeal to donors, meet the
demands of regulators and best serve our beneficiaries, our charities are low-overhead and
operate on razor-thin margins. To sustain trust in our operations, we do not carry large financial
savings, investments, or credit sources. We are defenseless against COVID-19’s disruption with
very few tools to overcome its impact.

Without immediate intervention to save Canada’s charitable sector, Canadians will not only lose
a major source of employment and economic activity, they will also lose their most active
community partners – partners who are well positioned to respond to, manage, and help aid the
recovery from this crisis at home and abroad. Without the presence of charities supporting
Canada and the world’s recovery, more and more vulnerable members of our society and world
will be at risk, which in turn will worsen and deepen the impact of COVID-19 for all Canadians.

We appreciate the extraordinary efforts of the Government of Canada so far to address this crisis.
However, these measures are not focussed on Canada’s charities and are not enough to sustain
our existence. Given the severity of the situation facing Canada’s charities, we are calling on the
Government to take the following emergency actions, in line with proposals under consideration
in the United States, Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom:

  1. The immediate establishment of an emergency stabilization fund that will allow charities
    to stay afloat, pay staff, cover critical expenses, and continue essential, frontline
    operations during the pandemic. Given our sector’s significant employment numbers and
    GDP contributions, we estimate that this fund will need to be at least $10 billion to be
    effective – a total that is proportional to the size and impact of the sector.
  2. Provide financial support through and guarantees to Canada’s banks to ensure that
    charitable organizations have easy access to urgent, substantial short term low or nointerest
    loans to support their operations. This partnership should encourage the rapid
    distribution of these funds.
  3. Enhance the Charitable Donation Tax Credit through to the end of 2021 from 50% to 75%
    (in line with the rate that is provided for political donations) to encourage Canadians to
  4. Continue to flow already-contracted funds to charities and allow for maximum flexibility
    and re-budgeting as charities struggle to deliver and/or redesign their programs in the
    wake of COVID-19. In other words, do not delay or cancel payment on grants as charities
    work furiously to assess how they can and should program to keep their stakeholders
  5. Ensure that charities have access to the same recovery programs that businesses do at
    every step.

We also support the ongoing efforts and recommendations put forward by Imagine Canada to the
Government of Canada.

We believe that a virtual meeting with you or your designates would be essential to pushing
forward a plan for Canada’s charities.

We understand that all sectors are struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These are difficult, frightening and uncertain days for everyone. We thank you for all that you are
doing. Nevertheless, the charitable sector is uniquely vulnerable and our collapse would threaten
millions of children, women and families in Canada and around the world who rely on our ongoing

Please help us be there for those who need us most, now more than ever.

See a full list of signatories here.

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