Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaking at a COVD-19 press conference (Telegram)
Sustaining the vital work of charities is an important long-term need that will benefit all. Throughout Canada, charitable organizations constantly serve the needs of citizens. Every dollar donated to these groups goes back into the community to address challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic facing Canada is having a profound impact on the economy and has greatly expanded the need for charities to provide additional services in an unprecedented manner.
We welcome Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recognition of charities and of our calls for support during his announcements Monday. This is a significant step forward.
"We are ready to do more to collaborate on a long-term strategy with practical solutions," said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B'nai Brith Canada. "A contraction in donations, the lifeblood of charitable organizations, is already occurring. Charities will be in a position to document a drop-off in donations since the COVID-19 crisis arose. There is an immediate need for resources to help compensate for this drop-off."
The needs of charities are not the same as those of businesses and other organizations. The government’s responses should take this into account, including the fact that charities face a different taxation structure and will not benefit from certain measures applied to businesses.
"While no one has a magical solution or perfect model, we believe there is much that can be done," said Brian Herman, B'nai Brith Canada's Director of Government Relations. "We urge the federal government to think creatively and to consider the ideas that B'nai Brith is proposing."
The ideas proposed by B'nai Brith to the federal government include:
Mechanisms must be found to reassure charities that all government initiatives directed to supporting businesses will also apply to charities and non-profits. Working together, we can ensure this in a way that makes sense.
Charitable non-profits will need emergency stimulus funding aimed at helping adversely affected national and local organizations. Drawing on the work of organizations such as Imagine Canada and Cardus, through its 'call to action,' the government should announce earmarked funding to match private donations to registered charities on a one-to-one basis between March 15 and Aug. 1.
To incentivize Canadians to support charities, the government could enact an “above-the-line” or universal charitable deduction to support efforts to combat COVID-19 for contributions through the end of 2021. This deduction should be 100 per cent to a maximum of $500.00.
To further incentivize Canadians, the government could commit to allowing a doubling of the credit for total charitable contributions to non-profits in 2020 and 2021.
To help those who step forward, the government should permit taxpayers to donate today – at the height of the pandemic and through June 1st – and claim the benefit from these deductions on 2019 tax returns.
The Business Development Bank of Canada, which the government said will assist businesses with cash flow issues, should be instructed to interpret its mandate more flexibly so that it includes assistance or advice to charities and non-profits.