Top Ten Nonprofit Policy Stories of 2018
by CCVO Policy Team: Alexa Briggs, Lina Khatib, and Jessica Powell
Happy New Year! With 2019 upon us, we are happy to share CCVO’s top ten list of policy stories for the nonprofit sector. 2018 was a year that saw many policy developments at the federal level with wide-ranging implications for the nonprofit sector. This list, in no particular order, briefly highlights those developments as well as stories from the provincial and municipal levels – more policy news and resources from CCVO can be found on our policy page.
1. Removing the ‘10% advocacy rule’ for charities
Much-needed legislative changes were recently passed, removing the limits for registered charities to engage in nonpartisan public policy advocacy activities that further their charitable purposes. Canada Revenue Agency will release more information on the administration of the new rules in the coming days.
2. Promise of data update from Statistics Canada
In the past, Statistics Canada has provided a significant amount of data about the nonprofit sector, however, this type of data has not been reported in recent years. In collaboration with Imagine Canada, Statistics Canada has committed to a one-time update for the period 2007 to 2017, expanded to include a provincial and territorial dimension and covering economic contribution (gross domestic product), employment and sources of income. An update has been prepared by Statistics Canada and will be released this year.
3. Pension plan for nonprofits
The Common Good Retirement Plan announced in 2018 is a current example of a plan especially designed to meet the diverse needs of nonprofits across Canada, seeking to support employees in saving for retirement. Look out for developments in 2019 as the Common Good moves from start up phase, continues to grow its critical mass of committed employers and builds support among policymakers.
4. Permanent Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector
Announced in the 2018 Fall Federal Economic Update, the Government of Canada, through the Canada Revenue Agency, will establish a permanent Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector in 2019. This highly anticipated move is a significant win for the sector and will lead to a strengthened relationship between government and nonprofit organizations.
5. Social Finance Fund
As recommended by the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy Co-Creation Steering Group, in June 2017 the Government of Canada announced a $755 million Social Finance Fund. The Fund will allow nonprofit and charitable organizations to partner with private investors in efforts to fund projects that will drive positive social change.
6. Nonprofit journalism
In the 2018 Fall Federal Economic Update, the government showed its support for Canadian journalism by announcing that eligible nonprofit media outlets will be able to issue donation receipts and receive funding from registered charities. The details around these measures and others will be revealed in the 2019 Federal Budget.
7. Official poverty line in Canada
The Federal Government announced Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy, which includes setting the first-ever official poverty line for Canada. An official poverty line is an important policy-making tool that has been missing in poverty reduction work. Having a shared measurement and target is a big step towards meaningful poverty reduction in Canada.
8. Alberta 2018 budget
The 2018-19 provincial budget presented a reduced deficit, maintained key nonprofit funding programs, and included notable investments in social policy areas including children’s services, mental health, persons with developmental disabilities, and homelessness. Unfortunately, funding was reduced in some areas, such as the arts. With consideration for the slow economic recovery and current financial circumstances of the Government of Alberta, Budget 2018 was largely supportive of nonprofit organizations and the communities they serve.
9. Calgary 2018 budget
The City of Calgary passed the One Calgary 2019-2022 Service Plans and Budgets. This budget promises many exciting opportunities for the nonprofit sector, including a large increase to the affordable housing budget, an increase to the arts and culture budget and new initiatives towards a gender equity and diversity strategy. While there is support for most areas pertaining to the sector, the impacts of the reduced budget for citizen engagement remain to be seen.
10. Opportunities to engage with provincial parties
Alberta is ramping up to a provincial election, to be held some time in spring 2019. With the election period coming, we were presented with opportunities to engage with some of the political parties. Notably, CCVO attended the Premier’s Roundtable with other nonprofits in Calgary and submitted a brief to the UCP platform development process, which has been subsequently shared with all parties.
As 2019 begins, we look to a few very busy months as the province moves into election season. CCVO has launched #nonprofitsvote – a campaign to encourage the nonprofit sector to vote in the spring election and to recognize its importance to the social, economic, and democratic fabric of the province. No matter which governing party emerges, a strong showing from the nonprofit sector in voter and issue engagement leaves a lasting impression that requires attention and respect.
Nationally, the federal election is scheduled for October 21, 2019, and along with our sector partners, CCVO will build on the provincial #nonprofitsvote campaign, looking to leverage our strength as a sector heading into this election as well. 2019 is shaping up to be a year of great opportunity to engage political parties on issues that are important to the nonprofit sector. In 2019, let’s make it known that #nonprofitsvote!