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Federal Nonprofit Data Coalition members issue open letter on Bill S-279

Federal Nonprofit Data Coalition members issue open letter on Bill S-279


Re: Support for Bill S-279


Honourable Senators, Members of Parliament and Ministers: 

Nonprofits are present in every community across Canada, improving quality of life. As a nexus of social and economic activity, nonprofits are indispensable to governments' ability to deliver on public policy priorities, especially with regard to otherwise underserved communities. 

Despite this, the nonprofit sector faces a longstanding data deficit. Data plays an essential role in designing policies, planning interventions, anticipating changes and forecasting needs. Governments, funders, researchers and nonprofits themselves do not have the evidence they require to make effective, timely decisions. 

Senator Ratna Omidvar has introduced Bill S-279, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (data on registered charities). This bill would address one key data gap by providing data about the demographic composition of the boards of registered charities and federally incorporated nonprofit organizations. It would implement recommendation #8 of the Catalyst for Change report published by the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector in 2019. 

Recent survey data shows a significant lack of diversity on boards, which is concerning given that Boards of Directors play crucial leadership and governance roles in the nonprofit sector. While this data is revealing, it comes from a one-time survey and won’t help us track diversity over time.

Organizations would report on their board composition in their annual T3010 information returns, providing the sector with a way to track aggregate trends in board diversity over time. The reporting requirements introduced by this bill align with similar reporting requirements already in place for federally incorporated public corporations and federal initiatives such as the 50-30 challenge that aim to increase diversity in corporate Canada. 

We, the undersigned members of the Federal Nonprofit Data Coalition, support Bill S-279's intent. However, we do not believe charities should be at risk of losing their status because they fail to provide this information. We look forward to proposing this and possibly other amendments as the bill goes through the legislative process. 

As organizations:

  • Inc
  • CCVO (Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations)
  • Community Sector Council Newfoundland and Labrador
  • EmbraceHealthFoundation
  • Imagine Canada
  • Network for the Advancement of Black Communities
  • Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
  • Ontario Nonprofit Network
  • Philanthropic Foundations Canada 
  • Pillar Nonprofit Network
  • Skills for Change
  • Tamarack Institute
  • Vantage Point Strategies Society
  • Volunteer Canada
  • Volunteer Ottawa 

As an individual:

  • Dr. Shawn Newman, Toronto Metropolitan University
  • François Brouard, DBA, FCA, FCA, Sprott School of Business, Carleton University