March 22, 2019; National Post

Keenan Wellar is NPQ’s new point correspondent for Canada’s civil sector. He’ll be penning a periodic column called NPQ North to focus on trends and events above the border. Today, Keenan takes on the debates that have emerged around a new structure proposed for journalism organizations—one neither nonprofit nor for-profit.

The government of Canada released Investing in the Middle Class (Budget 2019) on March 19th. The introductory remarks tout progress to date on items like job creation (with an emphasis on programs for women) and support for families struggling with the high cost of living. These issues have been discussed previously with respect to the Oxfam Canada Report Card on Feminist Progress and the impact of the Trudeau government’s Child Poverty Reduction strategy.

Broad analysis of “winners and losers” lists those with student loans and first-time home buyers among those who have reason to smile, while those who were hoping for tax breaks—and/or edible cannabis products—aren’t pleased.

With two major exceptions (journalism and social finance initiatives, see below) the 464-page document was somewhat underwhelming with respect to news for non-profits and charities, but the budget did include significant funding announcements that particular organizations and sectors are celebrating:

  • An additional $9 million to charitable organization Indspire for education of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students (only 11 percent of Indigenous peoples have a university degree versus 29.3 percent of the non-Indigenous population)
  • $12 million for a Phase II investment in Ready, Willing, and Able (RWA) a national employment program for persons with intellectual disabilities or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Support for nonprofit science, research, and technology organizations like the Stem Cell Network ($18 million), Brain Canada Foundation ($40 million), Terry Fox Research Institute ($150 million related to cancer research), Ovarian Cancer Canada ($10 million), Genome Canada ($100.5 million), Let’s Talk Science learning programs ($10 million), and support from a variety of federal sources that totals close to $292.7 million for TRIUMF sub-atomic physics research.

A commitment for “up to $755 million” over 10 years for the establishment of a Social Finance Fund was referenced in November’s Fall Economic Statement, as well as $50 million to help non-profit and other social purpose organizations to “support more robust business planning, provide technical assistance and enable social purpose organizations to develop impact measurement tools to monitor progress achieved.”

The fund is broadly targeted to projects that will “have a positive social impact, such as reducing poverty, expanding employment opportunities for persons with disabilities, or building more affordable housing.”

The budget states that $100 million will be allocated towards projects that support greater gender equality by “leveraging existing philanthropic and private sector funds towards this purpose in order to help them reduce the social and economic barriers faced by diverse groups of Canadians of all genders” and specifies that a $50 million investment will be made in the new Indigenous Growth Fund.

In her NPQ Voices from the Field article of a year ago, “