Motion 559 – get involved in the debate

publication date: Sep 7, 2011
author/source: Terrance S. Carter
In the June 23, 2011, Charity Law Bulletin No. 253 entitled "Minister of Finance Reintroduces Budget 2011," [published by Carters Professional Corporation] reference was made to the inclusion in the Budget of Motion 559 calling for the Standing Committee on Finance to study tax incentives for charitable donations. Terry Carter photo

As reported in Hansard (November 19, 2010 at 1330), Motion 559, sponsored by the Honourable Peter Braid, reads as follows:

That the Standing Committee on Finance be instructed to undertake a study of the current tax incentives for charitable donations with a view to encouraging increased giving, including but not limited to (i) reviewing changes to the charitable tax credit amount, (ii) reviewing the possible extension of the capital gains exemption to private company shares and real estate when donated to a charitable organization, (iii) considering the feasibility of implementing these measures; and that the Committee report its findings to the House.

In the debate on the Motion that followed on November 19, 2010 and again on February 17, 2011, concerns were raised regarding the current national deficit and the "imperative of being fiscally responsible at a time of financial duress." (Hansard, November 19, 2010 at 1350)

However, at the same time there was a general consensus concerning the need to support charities. During the right of reply by the Mr. Braid, he emphasized that: "I was pleased to hear the widespread agreement on the value that charitable organizations bring to all aspects of our communities [...] We agree that the sector needs the support of government and individual donors." (Hansard, February 17, 2011 at 1750)

How to participate

Budget 2011 included a commitment for the Government to ask the Standing Committee on Finance to undertake the requested study in the first session of this Parliament. The Assistant to the Clerk of the Standing Committee of Finance has recently confirmed that the Committee has received the "Order of Reference" to proceed but has not yet met to address the study.

Once the study is "open," witnesses may be invited to appear before the Committee. However, if not invited, communication with the Committee is possible by presenting a brief to the Clerk.

For more information in this regard, refer to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance's (FINA) website for scheduled meetings, which the public will be allowed to attend, or to view webcasts or read minutes of these meetings.

Given the current challenging economic climate in Canada, it is unclear what results will come from the Committee's study of tax incentives for charitable donations. This is all the more reason that the charitable sector should become actively involved in the ensuing discussion concerning Motion 559.

Terrance S. Carter is managing partner of Carters Professional Corporation, editor of, and counsel to Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP on charitable matters. Contact him

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