Speech from the Throne - charities and nonprofits await a clearer signal of support as we deliver on government priorities
Charities and nonprofits hoped for an explicit and strong government commitment to our organizations in yesterday’s Speech from the Throne. Although certain mission areas were targeted in the suite of commitments made in the Speech, its contents fell short of the acknowledgement the sector requires as it continues to serve communities during this challenging time.
The Speech did not include charities and nonprofits among other categories hardest hit by the pandemic. Survey data consistently show that 20% of sector organizations may not survive the end of 2020 and charities alone will collectively suffer upwards of a $15 billion loss in revenues this year. Disappointingly, we were not mentioned as a sector that will be instrumental in delivering on many of the priorities outlined in the Speech.
We welcome the extension to the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy to next summer. Many of the hardest hit segments of the labour force are within our sector, and this program has been a lifeline for many charities and nonprofits. We are also in favour of an expansion of the Canadian Emergency Business Account. We will continue to work with our government counterparts to ensure that charities and nonprofits are eligible for these programs and will advocate for eligibility criteria that suit our unique characteristics.
We are actively seeking to clarify what is meant by the intention to offer “direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure,” within the broad commitment to job creation. The sector has been strongly advocating for stabilization funds and policy measures aimed at addressing our needs since the onset of the pandemic, and we are hopeful that today’s commitment to investment in the “social sector” responds to those calls.
We also recognize a number of commitments in this Speech that correspond to the mission-areas of our members, including but not limited to:
- Disability: The creation of a Disability Inclusion Plan, which will include a “robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities” and a new Canadian Disability Benefit.
- Childcare: A long-term investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system to “ensure that high-quality care is accessible to all.”
- International development: Increased investment in international development work. Kudos to CCIC, which has been calling for increased aid contributions.
- Arts and culture: Targeted support for cultural organizations such as performing arts and measures to “support the artistic and economic contributions of Black Canadian culture and heritage.”
- Homelessness: A commitment to ending chronic homelessness in Canada and a $1 billion investment in housing. Kudos to Recovery for All, which has been campaigning for a federal commitment to end homelessness.
- Climate: Numerous investments in green infrastructure, clean energy, conservation and the energy transition to meet the target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
- Women: The creation of an “Action Plan for Women in the Economy to help more women get back into the workforce and to ensure a feminist, intersectional response to this pandemic and recovery.” Kudos the Canadian Women’s Foundation, YWCA, and GATE for their work advocating for a Feminist Recovery Plan.
- Seniors: A commitment to work with provinces and territories to set new national standards for long-term care for seniors and “additional action to help people stay in their homes longer.”
- Income security: A commitment to modernize and expand eligibility for the employment insurance system. Recently announced recovery benefits will replace the CERB and act as a transitional measure until changes are implemented to the EI system.
We welcome the commitments on reconciliation, antiracism, policing and justice system reforms, elements that are crucial to strengthening Canadian communities. We want to highlight the efforts of BIPOC organizations whose advocacy work over many years laid the groundwork for these commitments. We are also encouraged to see the reference to social procurement in the government’s strategy for economic empowerment for specific communities.
These and many other commitments in the Speech from the Throne require a strong charitable and nonprofit sector that is fully funded and enabled by the federal government. We are, therefore, asking the government to create a Sector Resilience Grant Program to support organizations as they adapt and innovate to support Canadians. In addition, ensuring that charities and nonprofits have a “home in government” is essential for charities and nonprofits to fulfill their missions effectively.
In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to work with a number of federal departments to advance policy measures that support organizations as they steer our country’s communities through the pandemic and recovery. We encourage all Parliamentarians to recognize the vital role that charities and nonprofits play and ensure that they remain able to help our communities.