Charities

Voluntary organizations and member disputes take another trip to the Supreme Court

September 30th, 2020 by Ted Hyland

According to a June 2020 Statistics Canada study, in 2018 more than 12.7 million people in Canada volunteered for charities, non-profits and community organizations, contributing more than 1.6 billion hours. While not all are members of the organizations for which they volunteer, many are.

Under what circumstances does their membership have the legal status that will attract a judge’s jurisdiction and oversight, particularly when there are disputes leading to the expulsion or other discipline of members? This question is again headed to the Supreme Court of Canada for an answer later this fall.

The question is not an abstract one. It involves the interplay between the rights of the members and the discretion of those in charge of the organizations to make decisions that affect their members’ rights. If a member is dissatisfied with the decision, can they go to court?

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Client Profile: St. Clare’s celebrates opening 22 new deeply affordable housing units

September 16th, 2020 by Iler Campbell

The new building with its cut-steel artwork adorning the balconies.

St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society is a charitable organization that provides affordable mixed-income housing in downtown Toronto. St. Clare’s was formed in 1998 by people who knew that the only way to end homelessness was to build affordable housing. This summer, St. Clare’s celebrated the opening of 22 new deeply affordable units in Toronto’s Kensington Market neighborhood.

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Client Profile: How the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto is navigating COVID‑19

July 9th, 2020 by Iler Campbell

Audrey King, a Direct Funding program participant since 1995, and her attendant, Louis George wearing face shields as part of the personal protective equipment used to keep each other safe.

Through the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, information about where to find precious commodities like masks and gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) items was shared and traded by many, particularly by individuals with disabilities who need regular physical assistance with activities of daily living like showering and dressing. Many people checked with traditional sources like medical supply stores, online retailers and big box stores, but not everyone would think to order surgical masks from their local convenience store to be delivered the same day, no less, via a food delivery and takeout app.

This unique suggestion came from one Toronto man in a Zoom call with a few dozen other participants of the Direct Funding program, which is administered by the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT). The participants are funded by the program to hire and manage the workers who assist them through the day; since it is impossible to maintain physical distance when one person is helping another to take a shower, PPE is critical for the health and safety of both individuals.

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Client Profile: Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust

July 2nd, 2020 by Iler Campbell
PNLT members and supporters celebrate the purchase of a 15-unit rooming house in Parkdale, the first affordable housing project of the land trust.

PNLT members and supporters celebrate the purchase of a 15-unit rooming house in Parkdale, the first affordable housing project of the land trust.

Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT) was forged from the collective vision of community members and non‑profit organizations active in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto: to create an organization focused on preserving affordability, diversity and community‑owned assets.

As a result of steep increases in land values in Toronto, the neighbourhood has seen significant changes. Parkdale is home to a high concentration of affordable housing, including rental, social and supportive housing, and rooming houses. As rising prices see progressively more affluent residents moving in, PNLT’s goal is to ensure that everyone, particularly those with fewer resources and lower incomes, can also benefit from the changes in the neighbourhood.

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Canada’s social economy about to get a boost, but problems remain

February 7th, 2020 by Brian Iler

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Canada’s social economy — those social enterprises (nonprofits, charities and co-operatives) that generate income in pursuit of social goals instead of profit — is about to get quite a boost.

Quietly, but thoughtfully and effectively, the federal government has initiated and funded, with serious money, a brand-new program creating the Social Finance Fund, to drastically expand the social economy.

This year, $50 million is flowing, and is set to quickly increase to $75 million per year for the next 10 years.

The fund is intended to address a major impediment to growth of the social economy — the shortage of investment capital.

While the private sector readily raises millions through Bay Street’s financial institutions, social enterprises don’t attract their interest. Instead, to be successful, social enterprises rely heavily on the communities they serve for financial support. And that often isn’t enough.

Hence the fund.

The creation of the fund was one of 12 recommendations in support of social innovation and social finance made to the federal government made in August 2018 by a steering group broadly representative of social economy organizations. Continue reading “Canada’s social economy about to get a boost, but problems remain”

Exploring new ways for charities to work in partnerships

December 10th, 2019 by Ted Hyland

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Registered charities in Canada find themselves increasingly drawn to find ways of operating through partnerships and networks. There are two legal impediments they face in doing their work. One is the requirement under the Income Tax Act that charities carry on their own activities themselves, known as the “direction and control” requirement. The other impediment is the prohibition against registered charities making gifts to any entity that is not a qualified donee (qualified donees are registered charities and other various tax-exempt entities specified in the act).

The Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) view is that charities are allowed to use their resources in only one of two ways: either by making gifts to other qualified donees (for most charities, this means to other registered charities) or by applying their resources to their “own activities,” which the charities must carry on themselves.

It is in this context that the Senate Special Committee on the Charitable Sector, established in January 2018, held hearings into the effect of laws and policies on the charitable sector. It issued its report, Catalyst for Change: A Roadmap to a Stronger Charitable Sector, in June 2019.

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