Feds pledge $350M to help charities plug holes in funding


OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government plans to provide $350 million to Canada’s charities sector.

Charities have seen a severe drop in donations since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, with donors hurting financially themselves and the charities unable to hold fundraising events.

Much of the money will flow through three national groups to help the country’s 86,000 registered charities deal with initial impacts of the pandemic, with a portion of funds going to small, independent organizations.

Trudeau says charities and non-profits are doing tremendous work to meet tremendous demand for their services.

He says the money will be used for, among other things, helping train volunteers, transportation for vulnerable people and home delivery of groceries and other services

Estimates from Imagine Canada, a charity that promotes the work other charities do, suggest donations will decline between $4.2 billion and $6.3 billion, and that between 117,000 and 195,000 workers could be laid off depending on the length of the COVID-19 crisis.

The federal pledge falls short of the $10 billion charities had been asking for as a stabilization fund, but many are expected to access a wage subsidy program to help hire back laid-off staff.

Trudeau says online applications for that 75-per-cent wage subsidy program will open next week.

Federal officials told the House of Commons finance committee last week that they expect to process 90 per cent of applications by the first week of May, at which point payments will begin flowing.

Trudeau says the Canada Revenue Agency is setting up a calculator so employers can see how much they can expect to receive from the wage-subsidy program, which will provide up to $847 per employee per week.