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Ottawa considers re-writing charities rules

The Federal government is looking at ways to re-vamp Canada’s charitable institution rules, reports the Globe and Mail. The Globe quoted Diane Finley, Minister for Human Resources and Skills Development, as saying:

“Right now, we ask [charities and non-profits] to take on these jobs. We give them money to do it. They receive the money whether they achieve their objectives or not…  Now we’re saying, ‘All right, we still want you to do this, but you get more money if you actually achieve the objectives.’ “

What would this mean in practice? Ms. Finley said the government plans to start off small with a few pilot projects. The most likely would be to replace some traditional grants with a hybrid version – a defined amount that recipients could increase by meeting agreed-upon targets.

Other areas of possible change include the permitting of revenue-making side-ventures, and an increase in the personal tax benefits of charitable giving.

The plan is described as being based on the “Big Society” plan being promoted in Britain by David Cameron’s Conservative government. Described by the government as promoting ‘social investing’, opponents consider this an obvious euphamism for deep cuts to grants and social services, with a transition of some to private provision.

Strangely, the Canada Not for Profit Corporations Act, SC 2009 c.23, was passed into law during a previous Harper minority, and has been awaiting only a declaration by the governor-in-council under s.379 to be declared in force. That Act as a three-year transitional period, and generally tightened accounting and other safeguards for all but the smallest non-profits and charities, but this new announcement places its future in question.

[Ed. Note: The “Canada Not For Profit Corporations Act” was in fact declared in force on 17 October 2011, beginning the three-year transition. It is still not clear what relation these additional considerations may have with the Act.]

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