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Results: 1 - 22 of 22
View Mark Eyking Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Mark Eyking Profile
2015-06-10 14:07 [p.14866]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life that was held in my riding over the weekend. This was the 13th year it has been held in Cape Breton.
Relay for Life brings Canadians together from across this great country to join in the fight against cancer. It is an opportunity for communities to celebrate survivors and remember loved ones lost to the disease, all while raising funds. The relay is the largest cancer fundraiser in Canada with more than 500 communities taking part each year. In Sydney, Saturday night, I participated with 350 participants, 100 volunteers and 95 survivors, all helping raise $60,000. Throughout Cape Breton over the last week, there were four fundraisers raising $170,000.
It was great to be joined Saturday night by former MLA Gordie Gosse who has been courageously battling cancer over the last year.
Congratulations to all volunteers and all those who came out to show their support. I invite everyone in this House to visit the site cancer.ca to find a relay happening in their area and join the fight against this illness that affects all of us.
View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
Mr. Speaker, Maureen Vine was a remarkable woman. The epitome of a great citizen, she blazed a trail as an active and caring spouse, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and a strong feminist. A member of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and the Raging Grannies, she was incredibly passionate about her community and worked tirelessly for peace, social justice, women's rights, and the environment.
Maureen received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, but the best reflection of her impact is in the words of those who knew her. “Maureen is a legend”, said one person. “Maureen was a role model who made a huge difference in our community”, said another. Someone else described Maureen as “a champion of real people; helping create and maintain a kind of Canada that I believe in”. As her daughter Jocelyn put it, “She really is a force of nature”.
I extend my deepest condolences to her family and her legion of friends. We love Maureen and we will miss her.
View Gerald Keddy Profile
CPC (NS)
Mr. Speaker, recruiting and retaining health care practitioners can be difficult in rural Canada. This is often further challenged by the lack of modern office space designed for health care professionals.
In my riding of South Shore—St. Margaret's, a dedicated group of local volunteers is working to change that. They are fundraising to build a collaborative health care facility to service the municipality of Chester, the Hubbards area, Tancook Islands and my hometown of New Ross.
Our health centre will attract and provide space for primary care practitioners, wellness professionals and visiting specialists. The building will include a main reception area, information centre, six medical offices and additional clinic space.
This is an ambitious project and I would like to congratulate all who have worked on or contributed toward it. This group of dedicated volunteers has already raised $3.1 million with a goal of raising $4.5 million.
Please visit www.ourhealthcentre.ca to follow this terrific project and see how to donate.
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2014-11-05 14:25 [p.9211]
Mr. Speaker, does the Minister of Finance agree with the Governor of the Bank of Canada, who says that young people should be prepared to work for free and live with their parents?
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2014-11-05 14:26 [p.9211]
Mr. Speaker, under this Prime Minister, the youth unemployment rate is now 14%. That is double the national average. Conservatives, side by side with Liberals, have watched while a generation of good middle-class jobs disappeared. They did nothing to help create the next generation of middle-class jobs.
The job market is now so dire that the Governor of the Blank of Canada is telling young people that they may have to work for free.
Is this really the best the Conservatives have to offer to a generation of young Canadians?
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2014-03-03 14:12 [p.3416]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate Michael Covert, a constituent who has been recognized by the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre Foundation for his generosity. Mr. Covert has made donations to the QEII Foundation in honour of 422 friends, colleagues, and loved ones.
Like countless others, I admire his dedication to volunteerism and philanthropy. He supports a number of non-profit organizations in my riding of Halifax West. Mr. Covert sits on the board of Bridgeway Academy and supports students with learning disabilities through his Mary Jane Covert Bursary. He also sits on the board of Callow Wheelchair Bus, a non-profit that assists veterans and people with disabilities.
I ask the House to join me in congratulating Michael Covert on this well-deserved honour.
View Mark Eyking Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Mark Eyking Profile
2014-02-27 14:07 [p.3296]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize two generous volunteers in my riding, Emmett and Mae O'Connor. The couple resides in Sydney Mines and has been offering community service since they both retired in the early 1990s.
Unsettled by the prospect of retirement, they set out to find a way to better occupy their time and decided to start volunteering in their community. Both at the age of 80, Emmett and Mae spend their days assisting at the Harbour View Hospital in Sydney Mines, doing everything from watering plants to helping with exercise programs and reminiscing with the patients. The O'Connors play an integral part in the hospital's day-to-day operations, having volunteered more than 20 years now.
Emmett also volunteers for Meals on Wheels, the Kiwanis Golden K, and the Red Rowe housing project. The O'Connors also generously host hospital residents and staff at their cabin in Cape Breton every summer.
Emmett and Mae are two of our community's longest serving and most celebrated volunteers. They have set a true example for all Canadians, and it is my great pleasure to recognize their contribution before all members today.
View Scott Armstrong Profile
CPC (NS)
Mr. Speaker, volunteers represent the best of Canadian society. They support families. They support communities, and they contribute the equivalent of 1.1 million full-time jobs in volunteer hours each and every year. Our government is proud to support volunteerism and to encourage them to volunteer in their communities. The volunteer.ca website helps connect volunteers with volunteer opportunities in their communities. Since 2012, the Prime Minister's Volunteer Awards have recognized exceptional volunteers and volunteer organizations across the country.
Today is International Volunteer Day. We would like to congratulate and thank the over 13 million Canadians who volunteer their time and support their communities each and every year.
View Gerald Keddy Profile
CPC (NS)
Mr. Speaker, community theatre enriches the lives of both those who take an active part in it and those in the community who benefit from attending the live theatre productions. In South Shore—St. Margaret's, we have been enjoying the wonderful performances of the South Shore Players for 20 years.
The South Shore Players offers its members the opportunity to showcase their talents and creativity and is helping to build the social and cultural foundations of our communities. This year's playbill is the culmination of many months of hard work by directors John Letson and Liesje Wagner Letson as well as the cast and crew.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the many dedicated volunteers, both past and present, who make these performances possible. I congratulate all those involved with the South Shore Players on their 20th anniversary and on seeing their efforts reach this incredible milestone.
View Megan Leslie Profile
NDP (NS)
View Megan Leslie Profile
2012-11-08 11:24 [p.12107]
Mr. Speaker, today we also learned that Conservatives will stop maintaining cross-country ski trails in many of our national parks. They include Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan, Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba, and Elk Island National Park in Alberta. This is another example of cuts to direct services.
Can the Conservatives tell us if they plan to use a private company to deliver these services as well, perhaps Goldman Sachs?
View Scott Armstrong Profile
CPC (NS)
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today and speak to Bill S-201, which proposes making November 15 of every year National Philanthropy Day. Our debate today demonstrates our support for those Canadians who are currently striving to make Canada a better place. As our Governor General recently said, philanthropy creates a society, community and a country that can achieve much more than the sum of its parts.
Philanthropy is an act of citizenship that is an integral part of our Canadian society. Many important Canadian institutions and organizations were founded through philanthropic activity. People working together for a common good, whether through donating money or volunteering their labour, is a defining value of our country. Many organizations in my own riding promote and support the greater community. I will list just a couple to begin with.
The Children's Aid Society, whose board I was a proud member of for several years, protects the rights of and stands up for foster children who do not have any families. Young children are placed in foster homes and the board of the Children's Aid Society supports the workers who dedicate their time working with them, overseeing them and providing policy and direct support for many of these children who are in the most need in our society.
There programs support those who cannot get out and shop for themselves. For example, Meals on Wheels supports those people who cannot help themselves.
When I was an elementary school principal, there was a tremendous program started in my school by a teacher named Dorothy Alt, called the volunteer reading program. She was able to activate over 140 volunteers, many of them senior citizens, bringing them into the elementary school to work with our first-grade students, teaching them how to read. In this program, the volunteers would come in and be trained. They would spend hours and hours working with literacy professionals learning how to teach children how to read. This program produced some of the best literacy results in the country. Not long after it was implemented, our school was listed in the top 40 schools in the country by Today's Parent magazine, based primarily on the results of this literacy program, started by a wonderful teacher who dedicated her time and enlisted an army of volunteers in a small community.
There are stories like that taking place from coast to coast to coast. There is the in-from-the-cold program supporting homeless people. There are breakfast and lunch programs at our schools that support children who do not come to school having eaten a healthy meal. There are programs at hospitals across the country raising money for equipment, nurses auxiliaries and hospital auxiliaries. There are coaches who work with young men and women across the country providing hours and hours of volunteer time for the betterment and future of our country.
There are volunteer firefighters for whom our government recently was able to pass a bill providing them with a tax credit in their support across the country. My grandfather was a volunteer firefighter for over 40 years. He put in many hours protecting both lives and private property in his community. He thought that was a worthwhile experience. There is also the Terry Fox Run, which has raised millions of dollars across the country using volunteers from one coast to another, with corporations and individuals donating money every year to this program. Its leader never completed his journey but we are dedicated to completing it for him by solving cancer and finding a cure for that plague of these last two centuries.
All of these activities, these noble pursuits, could not take place without those who dedicate their time or money in giving of themselves to try to meet a need that exists in society. That is what this day is all about. That is what this bill is all about, Bill S-201, making November 15 every year National Philanthropy Day to celebrate those who give of their time and themselves.
We have many people working for a common good, but this is not limited to the volunteers and all of these organizations. We have examples, great people in our society who also give up their time.
It goes right to our head of state, Queen Elizabeth II. This year is only the second time in the history of our country when we have been able to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. The first time was in 1897 for Queen Victoria. The second is this year, with our noble Queen, Elizabeth II.
Philanthropy and service go hand-in-hand and Her Majesty has dedicated her whole life to the service of others and this remains a remarkable example for the rest of us in Canada and throughout the Commonwealth. She champions public voluntary service around the world. Her Majesty is currently the patron of more than 600 charities worldwide and 33 are in Canada. These include the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Nurses Association. The sense of service has also been transferred to other members of the royal family.
The Queen and members of her family lend support to noteworthy Canadian causes such as environmental preservation, volunteerism and community service. They associate themselves with worthy causes and support organizations through the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, the Prince of Wales Charities in Canada and the Save the Children Fund. I, for one, am proud of the work that our royal family does in showing leadership to all of us of how to dedicate our time and money in the service of others.
Literally millions of Canadians follow this example and serve their communities in raising money for charities, donating their time and their hard-earned tax dollars for the good of others. In my riding of Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley we are fortunate to have many people who give their time and effort for their community. I listed several organizations previously.
One recent project took place in Truro where we opened a new hospital last week. It was a $185 million project that was funded in part by the largest community fundraising effort in the history of my riding. The local community raised a total of $26 million toward this project. That amount totals to over $300 for every man, woman and child in the community. I wish to personally congratulate the chair, Chris MacDougall, and the other members of the To Our Health campaign for this outstanding effort in the support of our community. I would also like to congratulate all those who donated, the corporations, the individuals, the children who conducted penny parades and many other projects, toward building a hospital which is for the good of not only this generation, but many generations to come.
These projects happen across Canada each and every day. It is time that we set November 15 aside every year so we can celebrate those who give their time, those who give their money and those who take the time to work for these organizations to ask people to give money. We need to celebrate these people and support them. Without them, we would not have what I believe is the greatest nation in the world. It is because of this important role that volunteers, fundraisers, those who donate and others play in making our nation the best country that I support designating this day in honour of their generosity.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2012-11-05 11:59 [p.11892]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the House and all the members who have spoken to the bill and indicated their support for it.
The bill having reached this stage is a tribute to Senator Terry Mercer from the other place. He has made numerous attempts to get this legislation passed. I know he would want me to thank the House and all members for their support.
Volunteer groups across Canada would appreciate this recognition, as would people who are donors. The bill is all about donors and volunteers across Canada, those millions of folks whom make Canada the most caring country in the world.
I hope every Canadian has had the benefit at some stage in their lives of the help of a volunteer, have had the benefit of their work, whether it is a hockey coach, a basketball or soccer coach who has made a difference in their lives, or a scout or girl guide leader who have taught many life lessons or a food bank volunteers who have helped provide the necessities of life.
The bill, as my last colleague to speak said, is a very non-partisan bill and it shows how we can all work together. I am confident we will all work together in the end and pass the bill. I hope we can work together in making the spirit of the bill felt across Canada as well.
It is encouraging that the bill, it appears, will pass before November 15, which is National Philanthropy Day, and that will be welcomed by the legions of volunteers across Canada.
I was a bit baffled last week, in view of the support from all parties for the substance of the bill, when I asked for unanimous consent to have it passed at third reading and an NDP colleague, perhaps acting on orders from on high in the party, refused consent for that to happen.
I will try again in a minute and perhaps members will see their way to support that measure. If not, I know the bill will pass and I know I will still have their support for the substance of the bill. I do not really see what the partisan advantage, or any advantage, a party gets from not giving consent to that at this stage, but those are the games perhaps that get played around this place.
I would be remiss if I did not express my appreciation to my Liberal colleague, the hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie, who was kind enough to make the switch that allowed the bill to come back so soon and have a chance of passing before November 15, National Philanthropy Day.
I am proud to have been the sponsor the bill in the House. I am pleased for Senator Mercer and countless others from both houses who have really tried to push the bill along and allowed us to be about to declare that November 15 every year will be National Philanthropy Day, an important day for us to mark.
Before I finish, I would like to see consent for the following motion: That, at the conclusion of today's debate on Bill S-201, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day, all questions necessary to dispose of the bill be deemed put and that the bill be read a third time and now pass.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2012-11-05 14:13 [p.11910]
Mr. Speaker, this summer we said goodbye to an exceptional Canadian. Ruth Goldbloom was 4' 11” of sunshine. She was the most formidable fundraiser for charities, universities and arts and culture Nova Scotia has ever seen, and one of Canada's best.
An Officer of the Order of Canada, Ruth was the first chairwoman of the annual Metro United Way campaign. She was the driving force responsible for preserving Pier 21 and making it a celebration of Canada's openness and diversity and our national immigration museum.
A bundle of boundless energy, Ruth was still tap dancing earlier this year at the age of 88.
Ruth Goldbloom demonstrated how much difference one person can make. It is a privilege to pay tribute to her.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
He said: Mr. Speaker, I would like members to stay in the chamber and enjoy the wonderful speeches I am sure they are going to hear this evening on this topic of Bill S-201, the national philanthropy day act. I am very happy to be speaking to this bill. I hope that during the speeches from members of other parties, they might indicate whether they would be agreeable to a motion for unanimous consent to have the bill passed at third reading today. I will not move that at the moment.
I am very proud to sponsor this bill in the House of Commons and to offer my congratulations to Senator Mercer, who initiated this piece of legislation. He has committed a good portion of his life to various charitable efforts. The good senator has touched a lot of lives over the years in Toronto, Halifax and Mount Uniacke, where he now resides. He has lived in all those places over the years.
I also owe a debt of gratitude to colleagues from the government benches and the opposition benches of the NDP for their generous support of the bill and what it is trying to accomplish.
The all-party support we have seen for Bill S-201 shows the commitment of all sides of the House for the establishment of National Philanthropy Day.
We should all give our thanks to the countless volunteers who make Canada the most caring country in the world.
I am very pleased that the bill was reported back to the House by committee without amendments. I am pleased to hear about the strong level of support it received at committee and about the stories others in this place have shared, here and in committee. They are members who share a commitment to helping others through a wide range of fundraising efforts. I know that many members are involved in charitable efforts across the country.
As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage said, this bill is about more than Canadians helping Canadians, although it is certainly about that. It also recognizes that we step up when help is needed around the globe. Just look, for example, at the recent disaster relief efforts in Haiti, Japan, and East Africa. I am sure that there are Canadians involved along the eastern seaboard of the United States where they have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. We hope the devastation from that storm is finished or is about to be finished.
This act would designate the 15th day of November each year as National Philanthropy Day.
Let me recap the purpose of the bill. First of all, it would increase public awareness of National Philanthropy Day as a time to thank those who give throughout the year. Second, it would focus public attention on the major accomplishments made possible through philanthropic contributions. Third, it would honour key local individuals and corporations for their philanthropic endeavours. Fourth, it would recognize local fundraisers and volunteers, which is really important, and thank them for their time, their talent and their dedication, which is so critical in our society.
This type of nationally recognized day would encourage schools, community groups and individuals to become more aware of the impact of philanthropy and to get involved themselves as volunteers or donors.
Some organizations are having a tough time these days. Some of their volunteers are getting a bit older and have decided that they have given their time and are going to do something else now or take a break from their volunteering. Some organizations are having a difficult time getting new volunteers.
It is really important that we find ways to encourage Canadians to give the time they have. Most Canadians are very busy. They have busy lives, often with young families. They are running them off to soccer and hockey and so on. We need to encourage people to take part in volunteering activities.
This day would also be used to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions philanthropy has made to our lives, to our communities, and of course, to our country.
My colleague from Sudbury knows about this, as the former executive director of the United Way in Sudbury. He was right when he said earlier in debate on the bill that he believes that National Philanthropy Day will heighten public awareness of the importance of charitable giving and volunteerism. It will also move us towards having nearly 100% of Canadians getting involved and getting engaged in charitable activities on a regular basis. Those are worthwhile goals he alluded to.
The first National Philanthropy Day was held in 1986 to celebrate the endless daily contributions individuals and organizations across the country and across the world make to countless causes and missions.
This year, more than 100 National Philanthropy Day events and activities are taking place across North America. Over 50,000 people are taking part.
Sixteen Canadian events honour philanthropists and volunteers in most major Canadian cities.
When Senator Mercer testified at the heritage committee of the House, on October 16, he pointed out that recent research revealed that the troubles we have with the economy have negatively impacted charitable giving. In difficult times, it becomes tougher.
A lot of Canadians have a history of digging a little deeper in tough times. It is just that fewer Canadians have had the ability, perhaps, to dig as deep during an economic slowdown.
As Senator Mercer said:
The number of Canadians giving to charities has stagnated, and donation levels are not rising in response to the increase in the need for the services that charities provide.
That is why he believes it is so important to recognize people who so generously give of their time, their energy and their resources.
Canadian giving has dropped for the last three years, according to Statistics Canada. The charitable sector, however, has over $100 billion in annual revenue. It is made up of more than 161,000 organizations in Canada. The numbers involved here are incredible. There are over a million paid staff and over six million volunteers. That is a huge chunk of this country's population. It is a remarkable number.
Both at home and around the globe, Canadians are recognized for their generosity and compassion. As members of Parliament, we all continue to be inspired by the dedication of volunteers who give freely of their time to improve the lives of others.
Through Senator Mercer's persistence, dedication and hard work, the Senate has passed the bill on several occasions in the past. However, it has always been sidetracked for one reason or another, whether it was elections or what have you. I hope that this time it will be passed by my colleagues in this House and given royal assent by our Governor General.
Every one of us is a beneficiary of Canada's generous spirit of volunteerism. I think of the ways I benefited as a young person, as a child, from hockey coaches, soccer coaches and teachers who went out of their way to give extra time to help out. I probably needed lots of extra time.
We can all think of ways we have benefited over the years. Today I benefit from the fact that my son has people in scouts. He is in Venturers now. Leaders in scouting and Venturers make contributions to my family with their great work.
The philanthropy I am speaking of is exemplified by organizations such as Beacon House, a food bank that serves the Bedford-Sackville area, part of which is in my riding, and Phoenix House, in Halifax.
My colleagues across the way are anxious to have the question asked, I think. I am getting a good sign about possible unanimous consent.
Large organizations such as Feed Nova Scotia, which collects and distributes food to over 150 food banks and meal programs, thrive under the caring spirit of Nova Scotians.
Nationwide, Canadians give more than two billion hours of their time a year to help others. Two-thirds of all Canadians donate to charitable organizations each year.
As members of Parliament, we know about the thousands of groups that do tremendous work in our towns, our villages and our cities. I know that all colleagues here are most generous with support for these groups. They have shown their support for Bill S-201.
It is in recognition of these immeasurable contributions that we look to recognize National Philanthropy Day every year, and with their support, we are about to see that happen.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2012-10-30 18:09 [p.11698]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague, who is also my neighbour in the Confederation building.
I agree that other measures are needed. We talked about a tax credit for certain volunteers. There are various ways we can help organizations that make significant contributions to our communities.
This bill is about a national philanthropy day, and that is important. As my hon. colleague knows, it is up to the government to decide on spending. All we can do for now is create a philanthropy day to indicate that it is very important to recognize people who donate their time or money to good causes.
View Scott Brison Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Scott Brison Profile
2012-10-30 18:11 [p.11698]
Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member for Halifax West that we ought to be celebrating volunteerism every day of the year. However, it is a great idea to have one day a year to celebrate it officially through a national philanthropy day, which is the inspiration of good Senator Mercer, of the other place. It is a great idea. I think we can all agree on that.
Would the hon. member agree, as well, that we should also find ways to strengthen support for volunteers? We have moved forward in certain ways with, for instance, tax credits for volunteer emergency service workers, such as volunteer firefighters. Would it be helpful to make those tax credits refundable such that low-income firefighters would benefit as well? Is that one of the ideas we should be considering as a House?
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2012-10-30 18:12 [p.11699]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague and friend from the neighbouring riding of Kings—Hants, where Senator Mercer resides. I know that he was not rising just to solidify that vote in the next election. He already has that, but his point is well taken. It would be a positive move if the existing tax credit for firefighters, for example, were extended so that it was refundable, because at the moment, people who are low income would not receive it. That would be a very positive move.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2012-10-30 18:13 [p.11699]
Mr. Speaker, this is, of course, the time for questions and comments, and that was a very appropriate comment. I am grateful for the House's support for this legislation and for all the comments we have heard.
View Scott Brison Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Scott Brison Profile
2012-09-25 18:40 [p.10442]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-399, tax credits for volunteers' travel expenses.
I would like to begin by thanking the hon. member for Repentigny for introducing the legislation. I appreciate having the opportunity to discuss ways that we, as a Parliament, can better support volunteers and encourage volunteerism.
I will start by talking about some of what has occurred in recent years, particularly around tax measures to help volunteer emergency service workers or firefighters. There has been a consensus across party lines on some of the measures that we should recognize the important work of, for instance, emergency service volunteers, those who risk their lives in order to protect and make communities safer.
As part of that discussion, the Liberal Party proposed a $3,000 refundable tax credit for volunteer firefighters. We made it refundable deliberately. The reality is that if these tax credits are not refundable, it means, perversely, that the lowest-income Canadians, Canadians who need the support the most, do not actually qualify and do not receive the benefit.
Earlier today we had a discussion on income inequality and the growing gap between rich and poor in Canada. The reality is that, to a certain extent, non-refundable tax credits can exacerbate that and make it worse by disqualifying, technically, the lowest-income Canadians who need the help the most.
For instance, we proposed a refundable family caregiver tax credit, which would have benefited all Canadian families providing care to relatives with health issues, in some cases palliative care and in other cases long-term medical issues. The Conservatives introduced, instead, a non-refundable tax credit, which looks like they are doing the same thing, but in reality it is not a lot of resources because it does not apply to a large segment of the population, the people who need the help the most.
What the government has become very effective at doing is establishing boutique tax credits that are non-refundable. They do not take a lot of money out of the federal treasury because they do not actually help a lot of people, but it looks like they are taking action.
People come to my office who are quite disappointed. They expected these new tax credits would somehow benefit them, only to find out that because of the fact they had low incomes, they did not qualify.
Let us take, for instance, a senior citizen on a modest fixed income who drives for Meals on Wheels. If the tax credit being proposed today as part of this legislation is non-refundable, that senior will not benefit because he or she is not paying taxes now. Just to make it clear, a refundable tax credit also benefits people whose incomes are so low that they are not paying taxes. A low-income senior who drives, for instance, for Meals on Wheels is still incurring expenses to volunteer. In fact, those expenses represent a very significant portion of his or her income. He or she still has to put gas in the car to get to the volunteer site or pay for public transit.
That brings me to the design of the tax credit under Bill C-399.
Bill C-399 would establish a tax credit to help volunteers defray some of the travel expenses they have because of their volunteer work. Unfortunately, the tax credit potentially established under Bill C-399 is non-refundable. We hope this could be addressed and corrected as part of the legislative process. Perhaps if this were to get to committee, it could be part of the discussion.
We support sending Bill C-399 to committee so we can discuss, among other things, design issues, including making the tax credit fully refundable.
We have a concern about the growing number of non-refundable tax credits. We believe it is in some ways exacerbating the issue of income inequality in Canada. These tax credits fail to meet the fairness test. It just seems wrong for the government to protect its own bottom line by deliberately excluding the most disadvantaged Canadians.
Beyond the non-refundable nature of the tax credit, Bill C-399 sets out some interesting parameters. To qualify for the tax credit, one must do a minimum of 130 hours of eligible volunteer work and so one must make at least 12 trips that tax year. For the purposes of Bill C-399, this would involve travelling a minimum of one kilometre from home to wherever it is one does their voluntary work.
In terms of the monetary value of the tax credit, Bill C-399 establishes a minimum value of $500 and a maximum value of $1,500. With a 15% federal personal income tax rate, the proposed tax credit would translate into a benefit of between $75 and $300 for the volunteers who qualify.
Finance Canada has estimated that Bill C-399, as it is currently written, would cost about $130 million per year. However, officials were basing their estimate on past data and assuming that there would be no change in behaviour as a result of the new tax credit. They assume that this tax credit would not encourage new volunteerism or enable existing volunteers to travel more extensively.
Officials used data from the 2010 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, which shows that 1.2 million Canadians would meet the criteria of performing at least 130 hours of qualified volunteer work. They assumed that the average volunteer who had about $430 of travel expenses would be eligible for a tax credit under Bill C-399. They also assumed that the average volunteer would claim a further $500 in weekly travel expenses based on an average claim of 15 kilometres a week at 55¢ per kilometre.
The officials then estimated that one-quarter of the 1.2 million volunteers would not get any benefit from the proposed tax credit because it would be non-refundable and these volunteers would not make enough income to qualify. However, using the Department of Finance's own numbers, we extrapolated that it would cost about $40 million to make this non-refundable tax credit into a fully refundable tax credit, which would benefit all low-income Canadians who would be currently excluded.
I encourage the member for Repentigny to consider such a revision to Bill C-399. The initiative is worthy of the consideration of the House. I hope the proposed legislation will receive second reading so we can more closely examine the proposal and consider making it fully refundable.
It is important for us, as parliamentarians, to recognize the vital contributions that volunteers make to Canadian society. We should not base that recognition on how much money is in their wallet. There are a lot of low-income Canadians who, if we were to move forward with this kind of measure, would deserve the same benefit. However, because they are low-income, they would not benefit by the bill in its current form as a non-refundable tax credit.
Those are some of my thoughts and I hope government members see their way to support taking the bill to committee so we can have a more fulsome discussion on how we can strengthen our support mechanisms in the tax system and other direct support for volunteerism in Canada.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2012-05-16 19:22 [p.8249]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak in reply because there is not much to reply to in view of the fact that there is so much support for the bill on philanthropy day. I thank members who have spoken today and during the first hour of debate on the bill. It is a good bill. It appears that this is the view of the House because all parties support it.
I thank all members who have spoken to the bill, who expressed their views and who have talked about the importance of philanthropy and the different organizations that do charitable work across the country. There are many and their value to Canada is incalculable.
I look forward to the bill hopefully passing second reading and going on to committee.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2012-03-27 18:33 [p.6601]
moved that Bill S-201, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise this evening to introduce Bill S-201, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day.
This bill was sponsored in the other place by my good friend, Senator Terry Mercer. The senator proudly represents the north end of Halifax. He is very familiar with philanthropy and fundraising, having committed a good part of his life to fundraising as a profession. He has made numerous attempts to bring this legislation forward in the Senate. I am certainly pleased to play a minor role as a sponsor in the House.
I hope that all parties and all members will support this bill. I think it is a worthwhile initiative. This act would designate November 15, every year, as National Philanthropy Day.
Let me enumerate the purposes of this bill. First, it would increase public awareness of National Philanthropy Day, which is already celebrated, as a time to say thank you to those who give throughout the year. Second, it would focus public attention on the major accomplishments that are made possible because of contributions and because of people giving in a whole bunch of ways and in various amounts. All those philanthropic contributions are important.
Third, it would honour key local individuals and corporations for their philanthropic endeavours. Fourth, it would recognize local fundraisers and volunteers, thanking them for their time, talent and dedication. We can all think of lots of examples of the kinds of people who ought to be recognized on an ongoing basis for the wonderful contributions they make to volunteer and charitable organizations.
This type of nationally recognized day would encourage schools, community groups and individuals to become more aware of the impact of philanthropy and to get more involved as philanthropists, donors or volunteers.
The day would also be used to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy has made to our lives, our communities and our country. We can all think of ways that we have benefited from people giving, financially supporting various organizations. If people played minor hockey, they probably had somebody sponsoring their sweaters. We certainly did when I was in minor hockey.
There are groups that give to so many things, such as the Lions Clubs and the Rotary. Many groups work hard year round to raise money so that they can support worthwhile initiatives in their communities. There are the hospital auxiliaries. There are many groups that ought to receive recognition and need our support.
First held in 1986, National Philanthropy Day celebrates the endless daily contributions of individuals and organizations across the world to countless causes and missions. Many of those causes are outside Canada. Many causes that Canadians support are international, particularly in the developing world.
Last year there were more than 100 National Philanthropy Day events and activities across North America with over 50,000 people taking part in those events. That is a significant day. I think this would help to make it even larger, making it official in Canada. Sixteen Canadian events honoured philanthropists and volunteers in most major Canadian cities.
As a society we need to rededicate ourselves to charitable giving, to philanthropy. Canadian giving has dropped for the last three years to about $7.8 billion in 2009, which is down from an all-time high of $8.5 billion in 2006, according to Statistics Canada. Even more significantly, the percentage of Canadians claiming charitable deductions on their tax returns has dropped from 24% in 2008 to 23% in 2009. That does not sound like a very big drop, but the impact in dollars is enormous. That leaves Canada with approximately 5.6 million donors.
As members who have connections to volunteer groups in our communities, we have all seen the dwindling ranks of volunteers and the challenges that many organizations have in getting and replacing volunteers. Volunteers serve a period of time and then move on, deciding to either take a break from that activity or go on to another organization.
The charitable sector in Canada has more than $100 billion in annual revenues. It possesses even more than that, of course, in its net assets. The charitable sector is approximately equal in size in this country to the economy of British Columbia.
We can just imagine an economic activity that large in this country and its importance and what an impact it has across this country in all our communities. If that is dwindling, it sure as heck needs our support. It sure needs us in this small way, through supporting the recognition of National Philanthropy Day, to say that this is important and that it is important to get behind giving in Canada and to recognize people who do that and who volunteer for activities.
Furthermore, the charitable sector in Canada is made up of more than 161,000 organizations with over 1.2 million paid staff and 6.5 million volunteers. That is another way it has a big economic impact in this country.
Both at home and around the globe, as I was saying earlier, Canadians are recognized for their generosity and compassion. We can be very proud of the many Canadians who go abroad and work, let alone the millions who volunteer here at home. I think we all continue to be inspired by the dedication of volunteers who give freely of their time to improve the lives of others because that is really what charitable giving and volunteering is all about.
Through Senator Mercer's persistence, dedication and hard work, the Senate passed the bill on several occasions. I hope this time it will have time to do this and that it will be passed by my colleagues in the House because every one of us is a beneficiary in some way or other of Canada's generous spirit of volunteerism.
This philanthropy is exemplified by organizations like Beacon House, a food bank in Sackville, Nova Scotia, that actually serves part of my riding and part of the riding of my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore. That food bank depends on the generosity of people who care about their friends, neighbours and primarily about people they have not even met and will not meet. They give support, whether they give at their Sunday church service or whether they give donations in cash, sometimes they will bring food but also cash.
It is valuable to note that often a food bank might be better off receiving cash as a donation because usually they can get food wholesale where we cannot and therefore they can get more food for the buck than we can if we spend it at the grocery store. However, the food bank will not say no , and people who decide they want to give food are to be thanked and recognized for that .
Larger organizations, like Feed Nova Scotia, formerly the Metro Food Bank, collects and distributes food to more than 150 food banks and meal programs across my province of Nova Scotia. It is an organization that thrives under the care and support of many Nova Scotians.
As well as corporations in Nova Scotia, Feed Nova Scotia sends me its annual report each year. I note the number of corporations that make donations in kind. Some of the food companies, like Sobeys and Loblaws and others, give massively on an annual basis in a way that I think should be recognized. That is an important part of getting the job done and ensuring that people who are going hungry are getting fed.
Nationwide, Canadians give more than two billion hours a year of their time to help others and two-thirds of all Canadians donate to charitable organizations each year. We need to encourage that and try to increase that.
It is in recognition of these immeasurable contributions that we look to recognize National Philanthropy Day every November.
I hope my hon. colleagues will support this excellent bill. I congratulate my colleague in the Senate, Senator Terry Mercer, for his efforts. I hope my colleagues from all parties will agree with this bill.
View Peter Stoffer Profile
NDP (NS)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-240, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (services to a charity or public authority)
He said: Mr. Speaker, when people make a donation of some kind to a charity, they get a taxable receipt. However, if they provide services to that charity it is not necessarily tax deductible.
What I am trying to do in this bill is to say that if people provide various services in kind for a charitable organization then the services that they render should be tax deductible. For example, people may lend their car to a Lion's Club so that its members can drive a person to a medical appointment. That vehicle saves them a lot of time, money and effort and the owners should be able to deduct some of those services that they have rendered in kind for tax deductible purposes. That would encourage more people in the future to give not only their cash but also their time.
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