Update on Canadian Government Relations
(April 12, 2011) I am pleased to provide a brief update on behalf of your very active and engaged Government Relations Committee. Working closely with Jason Lee at AFP International, committee members have been focused on activities which impact members and philanthropy in general. The committee has crafted terms of reference to help define the roles of committee members and to codify the committee's responsibilities and efforts.
Chief Development Officer, MS Society of Canada in Toronto
Chair, AFP Canadian Government Relations
Legislation Affecting the Sector
The dissolution of Parliament and call for the election terminated two bills affecting AFP members the sector.
On March 4, 2010, Senator Terry M. Mercer, CFRE (Liberal, Nova Scotia-Northend Halifax) introduced Bill S-203 that would permanently recognize National Philanthropy Day every November 15th. The Senate passed the bill, and it was awaiting 3rd reading in the House of Commons. AFP and the AFP Canadian Government Relations Committee have been advocating in support of this bill for several years, and with each passing year, we get closer to the bill's final passage. Unfortunately, we came up just short again this year, and the Bill will have to be reintroduced after the election, most likely this fall.
The election call did bring to an end Bill C-470, introduced by Albina Guarnieri, Liberal MP for Mississauga East-Cooksville. Mark Blumberg, a member of the AFP Canadian Government Relations Committee, testified on Dec. 6, 2010 before the Standing Committee on Finance on behalf of AFP and explained the potential negative consequences of Bill C-470 while offering alternative approaches to the issue.
Late last year, the bill's sponsor recently agreed to eliminate the salary cap from the bill. The successful removal of the salary cap is a testament of the great work by Imagine Canada, AFP and the other groups in a broad coalition created to educate Parliament about the bill and its potential impact on Canada's nonprofits.
However, in lieu of the salary cap, some amendments were made to the bill regarding compensation disclosure requirements. If the bill is passed in its current form, there would be a requirement to disclose any employee or executive earning above the $100,000 for years beginning in 2012 "unless otherwise justified" to the Minister. The previous iteration of the bill limited this disclosure to the five executives or employees with the highest compensation. Now, it appears that the bill would require disclosure for ALL employees or executives of any registered charity earning total compensation over $100,000.
The bill was passed by the House and was awaiting Senate consideration, but the dissolution of Parliament terminated this bill. It is worth noting that the bill's sponsor, Albina Guarnieri, is retiring and will not return to Parliament. However, it is possible that another Member of Parliament could introduce the bill. Regardless, this issue will not simply disappear, and we will continue to educate our politicians about transparency and compensation..
New Advocacy Tools
AFP, with the generous assistance of the AFP Toronto Chapter, has enhanced its advocacy capacity in Canada with the assistance of Sussex Strategy Group, a government relations firm with expertise in nonprofits and associations. Sussex will augment AFP's direct and grassroots lobbying efforts and will help build relationships with key legislators and regulators. They already have been fantastic in terms of providing intelligence from the Hill on Bill C-470.
We also hope to utilize an internet-based tool that will allow its Canadian members to contact their MP's and Senators online in the near future.
Anyone interested in joining our committee or who would like to raise an issue or opportunity concern to the committee is asked to please contact Cynthia Quigley, Manager of Administration, AFP Canada, at firstname.lastname@example.org; Jason Lee, AFP's General Counsel, at email@example.com; and/or Ken Mayhew, Chair of the AFP Canadian Government Relations Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.