April 3, 1984

LIB

Jesse Philip Flis

Liberal

Mr. Flis:

Members of the Opposition may take advantage of Opposition Days. How many full Opposition Days have been devoted to debating this topic?

We in the House hear quite often from the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) and the Minister of Finance (Mr. Lalonde) that business, labour and Government must work together to build a future for the young people of the country. I am very pleased that the voluntary sector was recognized in the last Speech from the Throne. I am pleased that in the last Budget, the Minister of Finance recognized the important contribution of the voluntary sector. It is the voluntary sector which also provides jobs, affordable housing, important cultural centres in which young people meet, scholarships and education to those who might not be able to afford it.

I am very pleased that we are debating this topic, and I am also very pleased that the Hon. Secretary of State (Mr. Joyal) announced this morning the establishment of the parliamentary task force to examine the question of fiscal incentives for charitable giving and the definition of charities under the Income Tax Act.

In debate today, we heard many questions. What is a charitable organization? What is a non-profit organization? How should contributions be recognized and rewarded? Should they be rewarded through the tax credit system, through deductions from income tax, through the 50 per cent proposal which we just heard, through the grant system? I think the job of this task force will be to explore questions such as those.

An important question was asked by the Hon. Member for Provencher (Mr. Epp); what the legitimate activity of a recognized charity was. I think this question will have to be explored. The Hon. Member for Ottawa Centre (Mr. Evans) reminded us, and rightly so, that we must ask what the role of a charitable organization is. Is it serving the broad public good or is it simply that of a non-profit organization which serves a very narrow group of citizens? These will not be easy questions for the combined Senate and House of Commons task force to answer.

When the topic of the voluntary sector arose today, I asked my parliamentary assistant to send to the Chamber a list of all such organizations in Parkdale-High Park. We all have such organizations on our mailing lists and keep in touch with them. It is when one puts them all together that one realizes the impact of voluntary organizations on our ridings.

I was sent a list of the ethno-cultural groups in Parkdale-High Park. There are 35 such groups in a little community like Parkdale-High Park. These groups range all the way from the Council of National Ethnocultural Organizations of Canada, which represents 26 different ethno-cultural groups, to the Chinese National League, the Czechoslovak National Association of Canada, the United Croats of Canada, the Greek Community Metro Toronto Incorporated, the Italian Canadian Association, the Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association, the Baltic Federation in Canada, the Lithuanian Canadian

Community, the Latvian National Federation in Canada, the Estonian Central Council of Canada to the Maltese-Canadian Society. The list goes on and on. I have not even mentioned the largest ethno-cultural groups in the Riding of Parkdale-High Park which include the Filipino, Ukrainian and Polish organizations.

I am very fortunate, Mr. Speaker, in that the head offices of many of these organizations are located in the Riding of Parkdale-High Park. I am very pleased that, for example, the Ukrainian Canadian Committee of Ontario has its head office in Parkdale-High Park. I am very pleased that the Canadian Polish Congress has its head office right in the centre of my constituency. The Polish Alliance of Canada has its head office right in the heart of my riding.

This brings us to the question of what is a national organization. After listening to some Hon. Members this afternoon, I would think that they would define these organizations as being ones which did not serve the general good across Canada. These organizations have representation right across Canada and most of them follow a democratic process. The presidents of these organizations must be elected at either annual or biannual conventions. They are responsible to their electorate just as we are responsible to ours. That means that national organizations are very democratic organizations. They account for every penny they spend. I think other institutions could learn from these organizations.

My assistant sent over lists of other organizations. For example, she sent over a list of all the senior citizens' groups in my riding. There are 10 different senior citizens' groups in the riding of Parkdale-High Park. These include the Sampaguita senior citizens' club, the Parkdale Golden Age Club, the Over 50 Club and the Golden Years Club. Again, each of the ethno-cultural groups I have already mentioned have senior citizens' clubs.

My assistant sent me a list of the business and ratepayers' groups. These groups are non-profit, but are they charitable groups? Some of the business improvement associations such as the Parkdale Business Improvement Association, are trying to improve the environment along Queen Street. This will hopefully bring in more business, boost the economy of the area and create more jobs. However, these organizations do more than that. They provide scholarships in the neighbourhood schools. They make donations to help those who need help most.

How do we define these organizations? Are they strictly non-profit commercial organizations or are they charitable institutions? The Bloor West Village Businessmen's Association which is located in my riding does all of these things. What about the churches? There are close to 40 churches in the riding of Parkdale-High Park, most of which have a parish council of one form or another. These churches have helped to bring refugees to Canada in general and to Toronto in particular. They have helped the boat people, the Polish refugees, refugees from Guyana and refugees from other parts of the world. How do we define organizations which are connected with the churches? It is easy to define a church but

April 3, 1984

how does one define the voluntary organizations connected with churches?

My assistant sent over a list containing 40 other groups which do not fit in with the groups I have already mentioned. Again, those groups provide jobs, affordable housing, scholarships for students who cannot afford to go on to higher education and other services.

Before entering politics I had the good fortune to be a farmer in Saskatchewan, the good fortune to run a family business in Ontario, and the good fortune to work on the assembly line in the Goodyear Tire Factory. Of all my jobs the most rewarding was bringing heritage languages under the Toronto Board of Education, together with the Province of Ontario. I had the good fortune to be supervising principal of 12 different heritage language programs, including Punjabi, Urdi Gujarati, Hindi, Greek, Urkrainian, Polish, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, the languages of the Baltic States, Greek, and Portuguese. None of these heritage languages would have been brought into the regular school system if it were not for the co-operation of the various volunteer associations, and the various ethno-cultural groups which helped the Toronto Board of Education and the Province of Ontario in the organization. Rather than children learning these languages in cold basements somewhere, they were taught in a classroom setting. What a rich resource we have in Canada in the 75 different heritage languages that are spoken here.

This House has debated how to increase productivity, and that competition for world trade is becoming greater, Mr. Speaker. What an excellent resource Canada has in people who speak 75 different languages, thanks to the help of all these voluntary organizations. How can we ever reimburse them? What would we have to pay these organizations if they charged the going rate? The country could not afford the programs if it were not for the voluntary sector. Those organizations do not want compensation, they are happy to do this and feel that they are better Canadians because they have made a contribution to the growth of the country.

We have heard various proposals about how Canadians who make contributions to those organizations might be reimbursed and how the Government could assist those organizations. But there has been no mention of a proposal that has been made to me in the 20 years that I have been working with ethno-cultural groups, Mr. Speaker. Those groups do not want a hand-out from the Government, they want to pay their own way, but they would welcome something like long-term low interest loans so they could build their ethno-cultural centres and not be in debt up to their ears with all their energies going into raising money rather than into programs for young people and senior citizens. This is where we as legislators could be of assistance to a lot of service clubs such as the Parkdale Lions Club, Rotary clubs, and Kiwanis clubs.

Ethno-cultural organizations are national, not local, with national networks and duly held conventions where executives are elected and are responsible to the electorate. What would

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be wrong with giving a loan for 20, 30 or 40 years at 5 per cent interest so that the organizations could provide programs to senior citizens in the cultural centres, could provide heritage language classes, and space for people to practise their heritage cultures? Where do the various Boy Scouts and Girl Guides in our country meet? Some meet in schools, but the Ukrainian Boy Scouts and Girl Guides have their own cultural centres. They have their own camps, built with their own money. Where do the Polish Boy Scouts and Polish Girl Guides meet? They have camps at Barrys Bay, as the Hon. Member for Renfrew knows very well. He is very proud of the work the Polish Canadians are doing in his area. They take children out of the hot cities in the summer and give them a fresh air experience, teaching them leadership and self-confidence and how to preserve their language and heritage. In that way they preserve their identity and become better Canadians.

I would recommend that the task force look into the possibility of giving low interest or interest free loans, if we can afford it, to these organizations. That would not be a hand-out; they would be paying their own way.

I should like to close by tossing out four guidelines that the task force might keep in mind and that we as legislators might keep in mind to help the voluntary sector. I think we have all made a great contribution today. If we could offer some guidelines that the task force could follow that would be helpful.

First, the incentive should be an effective one. It does not make sense if the cost of the incentive exceeds the additional amount of "giving" that results from it.

Second, any tax incentive should provide equitable treatment to taxpayers; this is the essential basis for any tax system.

Third, the cost to the Treasury Board should not be unreasonable. I think we all admit that we are running a very high deficit. We should not increase it but should try to bring it down. The task force should keep in mind that the cost to the Treasury Board should not be unreasonable.

Fourth, administrative and compliance costs should be reasonable.

With those four guidelines and with our discussion of what constitutes voluntary organizations and non-profit organizations highlighting the contribution that all these local and national voluntary organizations have made to the growth of Canada, this Chamber may finally include the voluntary sector when it speaks about co-operation.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

Mr. Speaker, I have just a couple of quick questions for the Hon. Member. The first requires only a short answer. Am I correct in believing that he advocates that the joint House and Senate Committee should have the capacity to look at his proposals with regard to low-interest long-term loans and fiscal incentives? Is it his view that the task force should have that right?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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LIB

Jesse Philip Flis

Liberal

Mr. Flis:

Mr. Speaker, I think they should explore that and consult with the various organizations to get their input. I

April 3, 1984

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believe it is a proposal that I as the Member for Parkdale-High Park can toss out for the task force to consider.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

Is the Hon. Member aware that the Minister's notice of motion tabled yesterday establishing the committee, excludes all questions of fiscal incentive and financing matters from its deliberations?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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LIB

Jesse Philip Flis

Liberal

Mr. Flis:

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am aware of that. As the Hon. Member knows, by unanimous consent in this House we can do whatever we have the will to do.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

Mr. Speaker, would the Member care to tell the House whether, as opposed to unanimous consent, if an amendment were moved to the terms of reference to include fiscal incentives and considerations by any Hon. Member ol this House, no matter of what Party, he would support such an amendment to the terms of reference so that his matters may be studied, whether or not that amendment is adopted unanimously?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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LIB

Jesse Philip Flis

Liberal

Mr. Flis:

Mr. Speaker, that is a hypothetical question. I believe 1 would first like to see the amendment and the implications of it before I would make any decision on it.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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PC

Walter Franklin McLean

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McLean:

This morning when the Minister was in the House, Mr. Speaker, I asked him if the question of tax incentives might be clearly in the frame of reference. At the time he was tabling background documents relating to it. He said he would take the matter under consideration. Today at lunch, as the Minister spoke to the leaders of the national voluntary coalition who are gathered here in conference, they reiterated to the Minister that they felt the task force would be seriously jeopardized in its mandate without the mandate calling for testimony in relation to tax incentives.

Will the Hon. Member join with the members of the national voluntary coalition in Canada and with other Hon. Members in the House with respect to both the question which has already been outlined relating to the definition of "charity", and the question of tax incentives, which we are pressing, and which representatives and leaders are requesting? I sensed, as the Hon. Member said, "We do not want handouts", that the question of tax incentives is consistent with what he was indicating to us in the House. Therefore, will he speak in support of these representations to the Minister?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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LIB

Jesse Philip Flis

Liberal

Mr. Flis:

Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Member knows me very well. We have worked on many committees together. I always support any reasonable suggestion or recommendation. However, I was not here this morning. I was at the meeting of the Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence so I did not hear the debate. I did not hear what the Minister said on the national voluntary organizations. I would like to read what the Minister actually said, what the exchange was, before answering more fully.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
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Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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LIB

Douglas Glenn Fisher

Liberal

Mr. Fisher:

Mr. Speaker, I have just a short comment and question. Earlier, I noted the way in which our housing program and multicultural program have created a partnership between volunteers and the federal Government. The Hon. Member has hinted at the programs for seniors. I see the Minister for National Health and Welfare (Miss Begin) in the House. I would like to tell her that the New Horizons Program extends these principles to senior citizens and gives them a chance to be partners in community projects with the federal Government. I wonder if the Hon. Member could reflect on some of the experiences in his riding.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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LIB

Jesse Philip Flis

Liberal

Mr. Flis:

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I did not have time to go into it so I am happy the Hon. Member has given me some time now.

On Saturday of this last weekend I met in St. Joan of Arc Church in my riding the UMAT Katolik Indonesia, which is an Indonesian senior citizens club. There were 300 senior citizens present. One of the things they are actively pursuing is the building, together with assistance from CMHC, of a senior citizens centre. Because we have no land left to build on in Parkdale-High Park they want to build it somewhere in Mississauga.

We have other excellent examples, Mr. Speaker. We have the Copernicus Lodge in our riding. That was built, thanks to the co-operation of the federal Government, through CMHC, and the Polish community. We have two phases now. The first phase is where senior citizens can live and look after themselves. They have apartments in which they cook and look after themselves. Once they become older they can move into phase two of Copernicus Lodge where there is nursing care and all sorts of assistance for these seniors. Here again is an excellent example of what the community can do in partnership with the Government.

The Lithuanian people have built a senior citizens home right on Bloor Street in Parkdale-High Park. It was filled before it was completed, again, thanks to the assistance of the federal Government through CMHC with respect to Section 56.1. I would urge the Minister responsible for CMHC to give priority to funding for these kinds of senior citizens homes because there is an established organization there. They know what the needs are for their senior citizens. In that centre, they can hear their heritage language and see their own culture. They have a taste for different foods, and so on. However, they do not exclude other Canadians. They welcome all Canadians who want to come and live in that home. The Ukrainians have similar homes, and other groups.

Yes, in response to the Hon. Member for Mississauga North (Mr. Fisher), if anyone would like to come and see and study these excellent models, and I mean this sincerely, so that perhaps they can promote this in their ridings, we would welcome them in Parkdale-High Park. They exist because of the dedication and contributions of these voluntary ethnic culture groups working hand in hand with the federal Government. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, I must say that the provincial government, which is responsible for affordable housing, is not doing much to help.

April 3, 1984

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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NDP

Robert Joseph Ogle

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bob Ogle (Saskatoon East):

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy today to be able to say a few words to the motion before the House. I compliment my friend, the Hon. Member for Waterloo (Mr. McLean) on the motion. I believe we are discussing something today which is of great importance to Canadian life and to every Canadian. The Hon. Member for Waterloo has proposed:

That this House condemns the Government for its failure to honour the commitment made both in 1974 and 1981 by Canada's Secretary of State to develop, in co-operation with the voluntary sector, a comprehensive government action policy with respect to the voluntary sector and urges the Government to provide an immediate incentive to Canada's 40,000 registered charities by implementing the give and take tax credit proposal.

I feel that we have had a good day in the House, Mr. Speaker. I have not been here for all of the debate, but I believe the mood which has been demonstrated by the Hon. Members of all three Parties indicates that we are moving ahead with something which I personally feel is very important, that is, the whole question of voluntary associations and how they operate within our country.

Basically, what the Hon. Member for Waterloo is proposing is that this very valuable work in Canadian society be rewarded, more or less, and those who are taking part, by having a very clearly defined tax break. Those who give to voluntary organizations will have an immediate return, not unlike the return to persons who give to political parties today, which I believe has been a great advance in the whole political system of Canada. I would like to say a little about the historical development of this whole notion of voluntarism, the notion that our Canadian life runs and has run on the idea that people are ready to volunteer to help each other prepare and make a better society. I would like to reflect for a few moments on my own life history.

I was born in western Canada on the Prairies in Rosetown, Saskatchewan. My father was a pioneer. He came to the west early in the 1900s, as thousands of other people came from eastern Canada, from Europe and from the United States. They came to a literally barren land in which there was nothing but open space and lots of sky. There was land, and they were able to take out a quarter section of land, 160 acres, in their own names. Some of them made a success of it and some did not. Some of them were farmers and some were not. However, when the peoples of the world arrived, established and set up the communities of western Canada, they did it basically through their voluntary organizations. If you drive through western Canada now you can see what happened. When people arrived there they did not know each other but they knew they could not survive unless they helped each other. You see the churches and the schools on the Prairies, although most of the schools established in the early days on a voluntary basis are now gone. I went to one of those little one-room schools, as have thousands of others. They were the beginnings of Canadian life in that part of the country. When you talk to the pioneers, it was a rich life even though they had great hardships. It was rich because they worked together in these voluntary organizations. They had their music and drama clubs and other things four or five years after they

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arrived. My life, and that of many others in the House of Commons, has been shaped and formed by the voluntary sector of our land.

Today we are talking about specific areas in which the voluntary sector can be improved. I have a feeling from listening to what has been going on today that that is going to happen. It may not be perfect and immediate, but it is moving.

I think that is very positive because everyone here knows from personal experience that what we are talking about is extremely important.

I am a Catholic Priest and I have lived most of my life in the voluntary sector, the church. The same is true of the Hon. Member who moved the motion. He is a Protestant Minister and he has lived in that part of society. This is part and parcel of what I am all about, it is a way of doing what I am going to put simply as loving your neighbour. That is a simple mandate, given to everyone. The whole world knows that is what we are supposed to do. How do you love your neighbour today in this complicated society? The motion talks about that and it helps us to do it better.

The voluntary sector has to be financed, Mr. Speaker. We all know there was a period of time when everyone in Canada could get a standard $100 deduction for purposes of their taxes. The Department simply found it too complicated, I suppose, to take every little donation and add it up; it just said let us take it for granted that every Canadian is that interested and given at least $100. Well, the last Budget eliminated that deduction. The voluntary sector said that it should be taken out, it was not true that every Canadian gave $100. On the other hand, they asked that for every dollar given to a voluntary organization, there be a tax benefit of 50 cents. When the Minister of Finance (Mr. Lalonde) produced his last Budget he was quick to take out the $100 but he did not give the tax credit. Today the Hon. Member for Waterloo is asking that the second part be respected, and I hope the task force looks at this seriously. If that is done, the whole process of the voluntary sector will improve. The Government will not suffer because more money will flow into that sector. This will be a saving in the end for the Government itself.

Going back to the question of why I believe what we are doing today is so important, Mr. Speaker, I want to refer again to the idea of love your neighbour. By good fortune we have agencies who are doing that. We can become part and parcel of that work by stretching out our hands and helping other people, loving other people, by helping the organizations who are doing just that in the modern world. On the Prairies where I grew up it was easy to know your neighbour; he was a half a mile down the road. Everyone knew the people in small towns in the district, they knew who was sick, who did not have food. But today it is not so easy.

The question today is, who is my neighbour? Who is my neighbour where I live, who is my neighbour in my province, my country or in the international community? That is the question we have to address. Being active in the church at one

April 3, 1984

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level or another all my life, that was where I really came to terms with how that worked, why people were willing to do that through a church or another organization. It is a natural way to respond to the demand to love other people. I could talk of hundreds of thousands of people who are able to do that. Today we are trying to improve what is already in place. As I said, I think from what I have heard in the House today that that is going to happen. It may not be tomorrow or next week, but it is going to happen because the goodwill is present in this House today.

Some things are going to have to be discussed which are not easy. One question is, when does an activity become political? When does this or that particular group become political? It is not an easy question to answer. Some people will consider an action to be political, while someone else will consider it to be very charitable. They can see that the only possible response to a particular thing at a particular time has to be this activity. But two people see it two different ways.

Last Sunday, in a church in which I had never been before, following Mass I went around to a little alcove in which the local community had set up a development project. It was something to do with Lent, showing how this particular parish had responsibility to people in other parts of the world. There was a picture there of a good friend of mine, Dom Helder Camara, the Archbishop for Recife in Brazil. He retired from office in the last few weeks because he is 75 years old. He has visited Canada many times, and many people in this House, as well as those watching on television, have publicly heard him speak. Under the picture of Dom Helder Camara was written: "When I give food to the hungry, people call me a Saint; but when I ask why the poor do not have food, they call me a communist." Through that little expression we come to the question which will be difficult for that task force to answer. Where does religion stop and politics start, or politics stop and religion start? That is going to be difficult.

Dom Helder Camara has worked with many of the volunteer organizations I have worked with in international development. The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development of Peace, for instance, is a volunteer organization that uses the donations of Canadians to help development projects around the world. Dom Helder Camara has frequently come to Canada to speak to that group. I know from my own experience in working with him that much of the funding given by Canadian people has gone to work in his section of northeast Brazil where there is massive poverty, hunger, health problems and so on. I believe that the person who gives what he can to any organization is loving his neighbour. That is one of the ways in which Canadian people, who live in a rich part of the world, can help those less privileged in other parts of the world.

I believe that the income tax law should be changed so that when a person gives a donation to a particular organization which they believe is loving their neighbour they should in turn receive a something themselves; that is, they will get a tax

break. This will make it possible for them to extend their own personal income to help someone else.

I think there is strong motivation in what has been proposed by my colleague from Waterloo which will benefit the volunteer sector of our country and will not be a burden imposed on the taxpayers. This type of activity will make funds more readily available. Grants from the Government will not be necessary. The people themselves will take greater responsibility in the local, national and international areas. The responsibilities which are part and parcel of being a human being will be more easily addressed because people will have more say in how their charity is being used in the world.

The National Volunteer Organizations are meeting here today. It is a very good day to have this debate. It is fitting that it should be today. There must be a lot of clarification of words. In the volunteer sector definitions of many things are not clear. There is a lot of vagueness with regard to religion and politics. The information which has been supplied by the National Volunteer Organizations to members and anyone who is interested indicates that a charitable organization has to be defined by the tradition of the common law. A charitable organization can be one of four things. It can be for the relief of poverty, for the advancement of religion, for the advancement of education or for other purposes beneficial to the community. That gives us an idea of what charitable organizations are. In whatever new legislation is proposed there must be clear a understanding of what those particular areas are. When the common law was being established I am sure that the word community referred to a very small group. Today most people have a much bigger vision of what community is. It refers not only to down the road, but to the whole global village.

Another reason I think the debate today is so important is that I suspect what we are talking about today in the House of Commons will touch more people than any other single Bill or motion to which I have spoken. Probably every Canadian is involved in one or more of these voluntary groups. It could be in sports, music, health, with the Red Cross, with the local YMCA or with any one of the church groups I am talking about. Many people are involved with many of these organizations. What we are talking about today is important because it is going to touch every single Canadian directly one way or another. Something will happen so that that person will be affected. Something will happen that will make that person more able to act the way I was speaking about a little earlier; the whole way of how to love your neighbour. We are discussing something today which is of intense interest to every Canadian.

I see that my time is up. I am happy to have had these minutes to propose a few ideas about how I hope the task force will begin its work. I hope it will have direction in its work which will reflect some of the things we have talked about today. I will close by saying that I feel we have had a good and profitable debate, and I am very happy to have been part of it.

April 3, 1984

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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LIB

Henri Tousignant

Liberal

Mr. Henri Tousignant (Temiscamingue):

Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief, since I have been asked to share the last few minutes with my Opposition colleagues.

I am glad the subject was put on the agenda by the Official Opposition. I must admit that in the five years I have been sitting in the House, it is the first time I have seen the Official Opposition move such a constructive motion, and they ask to be congratulated.

If we really take the trouble to give the subject the attention it deserves, it could have a tremendous impact on this country, and the economic benefits will be very substantial indeed.

Have we ever stopped to think what a country would be if it did not have the voluntary sector? It would be unthinkable. So if we can bring this debate, which has been conducted with very little show of partisanship-it must not be a partisan debate in any case-to a satisfactory end, I am sure the entire country will benefit. Why? Because if we stop and think for a minute, this debate and I think we should realize this will help us make all the Members of this House and Canadians who are watching us more aware of what the voluntary sector represents for a country.

If we have the sense to try and harmonize all these efforts and all the potential that exists in our country, if we take the trouble to use these resources intelligently, Mr. Speaker, there are people out there who need only the slightest encouragement to get on board and serve their community.

We see this constantly in our communities, and when we visit our ridings, we see all these groups, these service clubs consisting of men and women, some of whom spend as much as one-third of their time on volunteer work. If that work could be quantified, I think that we could demonstrate that the voluntary sector makes a considerable contribution to the gross national product. If we were wise enough to recognize that contribution in some way or other, either through a tax deduction or otherwise, I would favourably consider the setting up of a House committee. I hope that such a committee would apply itself to the task at hand in order to achieve tangible results. We would thus be able to tap that potential of voluntary work.

There are so many Canadians throughout the country doing voluntary work at present and still more would be ready to do so. There are many retired individuals who are well off; the wives of tradesmen, for example, or other professionals who live at home or have raised their family. They have great qualifications and would be ready to make them available to their community. But first the Government of Canada should ask them to come forward and show them its interest and gratitude?

Mr. Speaker, I realize that some members of the official opposition would like to speak. To conclude my remarks, I hope that the debate will remain non-partisan, that it will

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continue in committee and that we will be intelligent enough as managers of this country to take advantage of that enormous potential in Canada.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
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LIB

Jacques Guilbault (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Guilbault):

Questions, comments, debate. The Hon. Member for Don Valley West.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. John Bosley (Don Valley West):

Mr. Speaker, I gather that it may fall to me to close this debate today. If there are others who wish to speak, I would be happy to reduce the length of my comments.

I accept the good will and the sentiments of the words of the previous speaker. Perhaps he will understand and even forgive me if I become to some degree what he might regard as slightly partisan. However, I will not be partisan on the question of voluntary associations or voluntary work. We all derive benefits from that work of hundreds of thousands of Canadians who do whatever they can to help their fellow Canadians. That is not a partisan matter. I believe everyone in the House from all parties believes it is absolutely essential.

There is a distinction which must be made between the activities of associations and their members and the frustration that the leaders of those associations feel about what is truthfully significant inactivity on the part of the federal Government to resolve the problems which their institutions have been dealing with, as members trying to help others, for ten years. Let me give an example in order to help members opposite understand.

In 1978, the Department of Revenue issued a circular, later withdrawn, which attempted to come to grips with the issue of what is an activity by a registered charity that is prohibited by law. Let me quote one of the issues raised in this circular. It states that written or oral representations to the involved Minister of the Crown are also looked upon as an acceptable activity on the condition that such representations are limited to presenting the organization's interests and points of view, and otherwise do not attempt to influence legislation.

According to the common law and language of this circular, attempting to influence legislation is illegal for the institutions we are talking about. In other words, the document entitled "Charity Today and Tomorrow", which has sat on the desks of Ministers of the Crown for some years now, is conceivably an illegal document and the presentation of that document is illegal.

In the context of what is not or should not be acceptable activity in terms of public purpose or benefit, the organizations themselves do not know whether they are in fact at risk of losing their charitable registration when they make a representation. While members may say that this has never happened and does not happen, we were told by the Civil Liberties Association last week that they thought they were taking reasonably sensible action in raising some money to defend a person before the courts on a human rights issue, which is their purpose and objective, but were told that they could not do

April 3, 1984

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that. They could not issue charitable receipts for those funds, and if they proceeded they were at risk of losing their registration for doing precisely what their objectives say they should do.

Mir. McLean: Ask the Mental Health Association.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

Ask the Mental Health Association of Canada whether it is clear if one is in violation of the law.

Just as a simple administrative matter, that same Civil Liberties Association for some reason did not file a return in 1978 or 1979. The computer system used by Revenue Canada has no capacity to notify a known charity of its failure to file a return and simply deems it to have disappeared. When this association raised its funds for the next year, it discovered that it had no right to issue receipts. These organizations do not know what their rights are.

Hon. Members opposite have tried to see this issue in terms of the good work that is done, but they have missed the issue as it is seen by the institutions. The issue facing organizations who are attempting to do something useful in this country today is that they have no way of knowing whether they are acting illegally or at risk of losing registration. They have no way of determining this because it is still a common law matter.

Since 1974, those institutions have sought a collective definition in the law to clarify their circumstances. Since 1974, the Government has been promising over and over again to do that. Here we are, on April 3, 1984, discussing a motion on the Order Paper asking the Minister to create a joint committee to look at the question of what charitable objects are and what the legal rights should be.

This is not a new issue. This same document from the National Voluntary Organizations, now in their tenth year, shows that in 1981 they submitted proposals to the Minister of Finance to resolve the issue. The key phrase in this document is, "That following three years of consultations the Coalition of National Voluntary Organizations submitted a proposal to the Minister of Finance in December, 1981". How long will it take parliamentarians-I mean all of us-to recognize that we have a special obligation to clear these matters up quickly for people who are put into a position by our inactivity of potentially being illegal if they call us or write to us to tell us their problems. They do not have the same rights to lobby us or raise their own issues with us. They responded to consultations over three years by submitting a document in 1981. What did they get? They got three more years of non-action and another motion before the House, presumably well-intentioned. We all hope it produces action to resolve this question.

What have various Ministers said, Mr. Speaker? In 1981 the then Secretary of State at a conference entitled "Consultation '81" said:

I am committed to the development of a comprehensive federal government action policy developed jointly with the voluntary sector.

The Secretary of State (Mr. Joyal) at the Conference of the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy in Toronto On November 10, 1982, said:

With this in mind, I intend to place this matter before Cabinet. My plan of action has five objectives ...

1. To determine the legal and fiscal framework within which the Government and the voluntary sector can work together.

In 1983 and 1984, what do we have? We have a motion that takes precisely that line, to determine the legal and fiscal framework within which the Government and the voluntary sector can work together, and it strikes out half of them. The motion before the House leaves out the words "and fiscal". It would not be surprising to me if leaders of the National Voluntary Associations were a little skeptical about the purposes behind the motion tabled on the Order Paper. It says:

That a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons be appointed to examine and report upon the legal framework for voluntary actions with particular reference to the following:

There have been two issues facing the volunteer world: one, definition of status; and two, an attempt to get a better fiscal support mechanism for their activities. It is not as though Members of the House do not know this. Members of the House have heard the debate about give and take for at least four years. Members of the House know full well that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Lalonde) took half of give and take. He kicked out the $100 charitable donation deduction. He did not put back the proposal to allow charitable institutions and voluntary associations to get at the tax credit, which was the second leg of that proposal.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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PC

Walter Franklin McLean

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McLean:

An $80 million tax grab.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

The Minister of Finance could have tabled in the House at the time what he expected the tax expenditure saving to be, which is that wonderful technical phrase which means how much money he was going to get in extra-what he was going to get in extra. In fact, if you work it out in his documents, it is $80 million. The Minister of Finance could have said that this issue of support for those who are trying to help others has been around long enough; I am taking the take part of give and take and I am going to give only $80 million worth of the give proposal. But no, we get into more of the language, Mr. Speaker, that says let us have a Parliamentary committee some day. Let us look at the proposal somewhere else some day. In fairness, many of us expected that the new Secretary of State meant what he said 13 months ago and before that, that there would be a joint committee to look at these questions and try to resolve them.

It is frustrating to recognize that all Members of the House-and let us keep this as best we can non-partisan-who believe that the issue of the way people raise money is an important part of understanding the issue of the charitable institutions, and we are now going to have to lobby, I hope with the help of those on the other side who have raised the issue themselves. We still must persuade the Minister, it would appear, to include that issue in the joint committee study. It should not be surprising if many Members of this House

April 3, 1984

believe that the words of the motion put by the Hon. Member for Waterloo (Mr. McLean) are absolutely correct. It states:

That this House condemns the Government for its failure to honour the commitment made both in 1974 and in 1981-

And it goes on to urge the Government to do, in effect, what it has been saying all along it was going to do. I repeat, we can go on and on forever talking about the reasons there may be difficulties with definitions or difficulties with certain proposals, but we miss the fundamental point if we do that.

The fundamental point is, and I say this particularly for those who have raised several issues today, can we reverse our thinking on the issue? Can we stop finding ways to say no to people who are trying to help others, and find ways to say yes to them? They have not asked for very much. If we want, we can get hung up on questions of whether we should treat non-profit institutions differently from charitable institutions. We can get hung up on the questions of what shall be acceptable activity and what should not. Why not do the sensible thing and say "we will define what you may not do"; we will tell you what activities, presumably to use their own definition, such as the support of a political party. Those will not be activities acceptable for people who have tax exempt status. Why do we not give them the freedom that they should have to be able to make representations to us, as every other Canadian can make on issues that are matters of public policy?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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PC

John William Bosley

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bosley:

Why should that be a surprising idea? Somehow we have invented some mindset that says if an organization has a view about public policy, it is all right for it to raise a lot of money, conduct a public education policy and run ads about that issue, which presumably would have an indirect effect on us through the voting public, but if we were able to prove that its purpose was to influence the legislation, we would declare it illegal. Or as one Member opposite told us recently in his view it is all right if they educate the public because the public are the people who elect us, and then the public can respond. In other words, if they can influence us indirectly, that is fine, but they shall have no right to influence us directly, to make their views known to us. Surely that is lunacy; surely it is self-evident lunacy, that we would say that to the National Cancer Society, the opera society, or others, for example the cultural organizations who we asked to tell us through the Appelbaum Hebert process, through parliamentary committees for a year and a half what policies there should be. We paid many of them some expense money to come here to tell us, because they are the practitioners, what cultural policies should be. Does it not sound absurd to have a law that says Revenue Canada might then be able to go after them for appearing before a Parliamentary committee because they had now violated the law, were illegal and could lose their charitable registration for telling what public policy should be in the area of arts and culture? Surely it is self-evident lunacy. What justification can there be for the delay?

Adjournment Debate

Before I sit down, I want to say something about some of the responses made today to the give and take proposals in the area of the policy distinction that must be made between grants and tax credits. According to some, notably the Hon. Member for Mississauga North (Mr. Fisher), the issue is more than simply grants and tax credits. It is whether we accept the principle that people should be encouraged to give of themselves voluntarily for public purposes and objects about which they care.

The grant systems of government are designed to find vehicles, whether they be in or out of government-notably out of government-to do things, projects, programs, be it for the Minister of State for Sport (Mr. Olivier) or the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Miss Begin), and which the government has decided should be done. The Minister of State for Sport provides funds for the ski team if he chooses because he believes it is important. That is a grant. What if somebody on the ski team, in the association or someone in the health programs or in culture believes there is a program their organization should mount that is within their purposes as a charitable organization? Surely it is equally self-evident that the purpose of a tax credit system is to assist people doing work within the public arena of purpose, to do projects they believe are important within those objects, within the registration and within what is permitted activity.

If we ever were to get to a situation, as the Hon. Member from Mississauga was suggesting, not only would we define a charity for the purposes of the law, but we would then define, restrict and control the programs they could get into by administering them through a grant system as opposed to a system of encouraging people to give to them. Then we really would be crazy.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 62-NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS
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April 3, 1984