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Ontario and Federal Governments Urged to Step Up Help to Charities During COVID-19

Alberta becomes first province to take positive step with donation matching program


April 15, 2020 

HAMILTON, ON – Can Ontario and the federal government match Alberta’s pace in helping charities through the COVID-19 crisis? Alberta is first out of the gate to heed Cardus’s call to action for a pandemic charity rescue plan by setting up its own 1:1 donation matching program. Ontario and the federal government have yet to respond.

“It’s time for Ontario and the federal government to step up,” says Brian Dijkema, vice-president of external affairs at think tank Cardus. “We’ve seen a tremendous response from the private sector to the Cardus call to action. One example is Gore Mutual partnering with Canada Helps to match funds donated through their platform. And Alberta has taken a step in the right direction, becoming the first government in Canada to launch a charitable giving matching program, promising to match dollar for dollar up to $2 million in charitable donations to the non-profit sector. It’s an encouraging start. We’d like to see Ontario, Ottawa, and all provinces follow suit.”

In a policy brief to the C.D. Howe Institute, Dijkema and Sean Speer, assistant professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs, outline how the pandemic poses serious threats to the charitable sector as donations, grants, and fees dry up.

“Canadian charities may see financial losses this year of between $9.5 billion and $15.7 billion, according to one estimate, and may have to lay off between 118,000 and 194,000 workers,” according to the brief by Dijkema and Speer.

While federal wage subsidies are important and can help keep charity staff employed, they don’t help with charities’ operational funding needs. Cardus’s call for a 1:1 donation matching program, shared among provincial and federal governments, is an accountable, equitable way to meet this need quickly and with the least administrative burden while keeping charities’ donor bases active until the pandemic is over.

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