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Public Policy

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Public policy and advocacy

A strong nonprofit sector helps communities thrive. Together with the sector, we advance federal public policy so that organizations are supported in achieving their missions. 


Nonprofits brief MPS on impact of key legislation

Convened by Imagine Canada with support from the McConnell Foundation, the delegation of representatives from 12 charitable and non-profit groups, including non-qualified donees, engaged in a series of 25 meetings with parliamentarians and senior officials between May 10-12, including Steven Guilbeault, Mona Fortier, Niki Ashton, Lori Idlout, Gabriel Ste. Marie and Ed Fast. The delegation was also recognized in the Senate by Senator Ratna Omidvar. 

Remarks from Canadian Charities and Nonprofits on Digital Innovation and Transformation

While the nonprofit sector contributes 8.3% to Canada’s GDP, the sector has the country’s largest gap in the adoption and use of digital technologies. To better understand the needs of nonprofits and charities, Imagine Canada conducted stakeholder interviews on four main areas: technology, funding, staffing and capacity, and advocacy.

Policy Priorities

Charities and nonprofits have no federal entity responsible for the sector’s wellbeing or addressing systemic issues that impact it, despite being one of the three pillars of the Canadian economy.

Government partners with community organizations to deliver crucial programs, but the way it funds these initiatives is burdensome, inefficient, and fails to cover the full cost of service delivery.

Nonprofits are playing a crucial role during the COVID-19 crisis, but many are facing financial losses and increased demand. They need support so they can continue to provide key programs and services.

Many charities and nonprofits engage in business activities in support of their missions, also known as social enterprise activity. However, they face barriers in pursuing these activities that for-profits do not.

Rules aimed at protecting public and charitable funds make it difficult for charities to partner with non-charities, resulting in equity-seeking communities having less access to these funds. 

A lack of economic, organizational and employment data on the nonprofit sector means that public policy, funding and organizational decision making is done without basic information.

Registered charities are required to spend a certain percentage of their assets on charitable programs or on grants to other charities annually. This quota mainly impacts foundations.

A more digitally enabled nonprofit and charitable sector will result in greater efficiency, communication and collaboration. To adequately serve the needs of society, the digital capacity of the sector must be enhanced.

How we work

Collaboration, partnerships and networks

The charitable and nonprofit sector is incredibly vast and diverse, with a huge policy agenda to match. In order to represent the interests of the entire sector and advance solutions, we work in collaboration with a wide variety of partners and networks. This helps us create a bigger impact and to ensure that a wide range of diverse perspectives inform our public policy priorities and approaches. Below is a sample of some of the groups that collaborate with us: 

  • The Canadian Federation of Voluntary Sector Networks is a group of regional sector networks that comes together on a regular basis to discuss issues of shared interest.
  • The Equitable Recovery Collective formed in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the nonprofit sector and the communities it serves. The Collective aims to advance an equitable recovery and a strong nonprofit sector. 
  • The Federal Data Working Group is a group with members from more than 20 organizations working together to improve federally collected and held data about the nonprofit sector.
  • The Canadian Centre for Nonprofit Digital Resilience is working towards a digitally-enabled nonprofit sector, where Canada’s nonprofits use data and tech to advance their mission and multiply their impact. 
  • The People-Centred Economy Group brings together community economic development, co-operative, social economy, and nonprofit representative bodies to advance inclusive economies and strong communities.
  • The Solidarity in the Social Economy Working Group works in solidarity to confront and mitigate apathy towards inclusion, diversity, equity and access in the social finance, social economy, co-operative and community economic development movements.


Parliamentary committee studies and government consultations are a great way for nonprofits to get involved in policy and legislation, raise awareness about issues, and connect with MPs. 

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