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Canada Issues: March 2004 Public Policy Update

Senate Banking Committee Hearings on Charitable Giving

On March 11, 2004, AFP will appear before the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce at a hearing on policy changes to encourage charitable giving.

The committee has been tasked with developing a comprehensive study about charitable giving in Canada that will be presented to Parliament later in the year. If there is no spring election, the committee will submit a final report by June, according to a committee spokesperson. However, if the Liberal government calls a spring election, the study will continue when sitting resumes and be completed in the fall.

Charlotte Cloutier, Executive Director of the Newton Foundation in Montreal and member of the Canadian Government Relations Committee will represent AFP at the hearing. Her comments will focus on four key issues:

  • Elimination of the capital gains tax on gifts of appreciated securities to charities;
  • Elimination of the capital gains tax on gifts of land to charities;
  • Reduction in the disbursement quota for foundations; and
  • Creation of a federally sponsored day to recognize charitable giving and volunteerism, such as National Philanthropy Day.

A report about the hearing will be included in next month's Public Policy Update. A copy of AFP's written brief will be on the website under 'Public Policy' after the hearing. If you have further questions, please contact

For Government Relations Chairs: This is just the first step of a broader campaign for AFP in 2004 to educate Parliament and other government officials about the need for public policy changes to encourage charitable giving. In April, AFP will be releasing a Canadian Government Relations Manual and information for chairs on setting up meetings with local members of Parliament. Many of the issues that we'll encourage chapters to discuss are those mentioned above. International Headquarters urges you to get a copy of the brief as soon as it's available on the website.

Charity Technical Issues Committee

AFP has been asked to participate on a Technical Issues Committee established by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA).

The purpose of the committee is to facilitate discussions between the CCRA and the charitable sector regarding technical issues related to the registration of charities and the Income Tax Act. The committee will not be looking at broad policy issues, but AFP representatives will be able to raise technical issues and problems arising from application of the Income Tax Act.

The committee will include permanent representatives from the Canadian Bar Association, the Certified General Accountants Association, the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy and AFP.

AFP must name its representative to the committee by March 31, 2004. The first meeting of the committee will take place on May 20, 2004 in Ottawa.

For more information and a copy of the committee's goals and objective, contact

For Government Relations Chairs: If any of your chapter members have any interest in being considered for the technical committee, please let the Public Affairs Department know.

Privacy - Ontario

As reported in the February 17 edition of eWire, the Ontario government has decided to amend Bill 31, the Health Information Privacy Act, to allow the transfer of basic individual contact information for fundraising purposes.

In its original form, Bill 31 would have prohibited health-related charities from collecting and using any personal information for fundraising purposes without obtaining explicit express consent from the individual. Implied consent mechanisms, such as a check-off box, would not have been allowed under the bill. Even such basic contact information as a person's name and address could not have been used for fundraising without express consent.

The government's amendment would allow a charity to use an individual's name and 'prescribed types of contact information' if implied consent had been obtained. The regulations for Bill 31, which will follow after the bill is approved, will detail what is included in the definition of 'contact information.' However, it is expected that an individual's name, address and phone number will, at the very least, be included in the definition.

The change is a big victory for AFP and the fundraising profession and is indicative of the efforts that AFP, AHP Canada and other organizations made to educate the government about the need for fundraising and basic contact information. In addition to the government, both the Progressive Conservative and New Democratic Parties intended to introduce similar amendments as well.

While the change is a positive step, AFP will continue to monitor the legislation and ensure that the final bill balances the privacy rights of individuals with the rights of charities to raise funds.

For a copy of AFP's comments about the bill, please contact

For Government Relations Chairs: This is big news for fundraisers everywhere, as this legislation could have set a bad precedent for other provincial legislation. AFP will wait to see what the regulations for the bill look like, although they are not expected to be controversial.

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