OTTAWA, May 4, 2017 /CNW/ - Charities play a key role in Canadian society and provide valuable services to Canadians. The Government of Canada recognizes the vast experience they bring to public debate and to the formulation of public policy. In response to the needs of this sector, our Government has committed to clarifying the rules that govern the participation of charities in political activities.
As part of this commitment, in late 2016, the Government held extensive online and in-person consultations with the public and the charitable sector. A Consultation Panel, composed of five experts in the charitable sector reviewed the consultation feedback and presented its Report to the Minister of National Revenue at the end of March 2017.
As an immediate first step to respond to the Panel's recommendations, Minister Lebouthillier has asked the CRA to suspend all action in relation to the remaining audits and objections that were part of the Political Activities Audit Program, initiated in 2012. The Report indicates that "numerous consultation submissions noted that this program has resulted in a pervaisve "chill" on the public policy and advocacy activities of charities". This suspension will be in effect until the government officially responds to the Panel's report.
Minister Lebouthillier welcomed the Report and thanked the Consultation Panel for their work and their suggested changes to the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) administration of the regulations under the existing legislation. The Report also contains suggestions for changes to the Income Tax Act. Accordingly, Minister Lebouthillier has shared the report with her colleague, the Minister of Finance.The Government is carefully reviewing the Panel's report to help inform its regulation of charities going forward.
Recommendations brought forward through the consultation process and by the Panel will help the Government of Canada better understand the challenges faced by, and the needs of, the charitable sector when contributing to public policy debate.
"The Panel Report represents a significant milestone in the consultation process we began last year and I thank the Panel for its work. The Government remains committed to clarifying the involvement of the charitable sector in public policy dialogue and development."
The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue
- The CRA held its online consultation on Clarifying the rules governing charities' political activities from September 27 to December 14, 2016.
- The in-person consultations with representatives from the charitable sector took place in Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax, Toronto, and Ottawa between November 29 and December 13, 2016.
- The Consultation Panel received nearly 20,000 submissions.
- The members of the Consultation Panel were Marlene Deboisbriand (Chair), Shari Austin, Susan Manwaring, Kevin McCort and Peter Robinson.
- Of the approximately 86,000 registered charities in Canada, about 550 report carrying out political activities on their annual information return to the CRA.
- Charities program facts and figures
- News release (September 27, 2016): Minister Lebouthillier announces consultations with charities to clarify the rules for their participation in political activities
- Policy Statement CPS-022, Political Activities
- Resources for charities about political activities
- Video Series: Charities and their participation in political activities
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