May 4, 2017 Ottawa, Ontario Canada Revenue Agency
Charities play a key role in Canadian society and provide valuable services to Canadians. The Government of Canada recognizes the vast experience they bring to public debate and to the formulation of public policy. In response to the needs of this sector, our Government has committed to clarifying the rules that govern the participation of charities in political activities.
As part of this commitment, in late 2016, the Government held extensive online and in-person consultations with the public and the charitable sector. A Consultation Panel, composed of five experts in the charitable sector reviewed the consultation feedback and presented its Report to the Minister of National Revenue at the end of March 2017.
As an immediate first step to respond to the Panel’s recommendations, Minister Lebouthillier has asked the CRA to suspend all action in relation to the remaining audits and objections that were part of the Political Activities Audit Program, initiated in 2012. The Report indicates that “numerous consultation submissions noted that this program has resulted in a pervasive “chill” on the public policy and advocacy activities of charities”. This suspension will be in effect until the government officially responds to the Panel’s report.
Minister Lebouthillier welcomed the Report and thanked the Consultation Panel for their work and their suggested changes to the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) administration of the regulations under the existing legislation. The Report also contains suggestions for changes to the Income Tax Act. Accordingly, Minister Lebouthillier has shared the report with her colleague, the Minister of Finance.The Government is carefully reviewing the Panel’s report to help inform its regulation of charities going forward.
Recommendations brought forward through the consultation process and by the Panel will help the Government of Canada better understand the challenges faced by, and the needs of, the charitable sector when contributing to public policy debate.