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Charitable giving on the decline in Canada, Ontario experiences steep drop in generosity

by pmnationtalk on December 16, 2014674 Views

December 16, 2014

VANCOUVER—During the holidays, many Canadians think about giving, yet fewer are donating to registered charities—and those who give are giving less, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

The study, Generosity in Canada and the United States: The 2014 Generosity Index, measures donations to registered charities claimed on personal income tax returns in Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories, the 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.

“With charitable giving on the wane, Canada’s private charities face greater challenges when trying to help those in need,” said Charles Lammam, study co-author and associate director of tax and fiscal policy at the Fraser Institute.

In 2012 (the latest year of available data), 22.3 per cent of Canadian tax filers donated to charity, down from the recent peak of 25.1 per cent in 2005.

Canadians are also donating a smaller percentage of their income to registered charities. In 2012, Canadians gave 0.61 per cent of their total income to registered charities, down from 0.81 per cent in 2006.

“Had Canadians donated in 2012 at the same rate as in 2006, Canada’s charities would have received an additional $2.9 billion in 2012, for a potential total of $11.6 billion,” Lammam said.

Among the provinces, from 2002 to 2012, Ontario experienced the largest decline in the share of tax filers donating to registered charities (a drop of 10.8 per cent).

And in 2012, Ontarians gave 0.70 per cent of their total income to registered charities, down from 0.82 per cent in 2002—the second largest drop among provinces.

Along with an overall decline in charitable giving, the study found that Canadians in some provinces are more charitable than in others.

In 2012, Manitoba had the highest percentage of tax filers (25.4 per cent) that donated to registered charities while New Brunswick had the lowest (20.3 per cent).

Manitobans also gave more than their provincial counterparts, with 0.84 per cent of their combined income going to charity. On the other end of the spectrum, Quebecers donated just 0.31 per cent of their combined income to charity—roughly half the 2012 national average of 0.61 per cent.

In terms of the average dollar value of donations, Alberta ($2,227) tops all provinces while Quebec, once again, ranks last with an average value of charitable donations of $726—less than half the national average of $1,523.

The study also compares charitable giving in Canada to the United States. As in previous years, Canadians lag far behind their American counterparts.

In 2012, 25.9 per cent of American tax filers donated to charity compared to 22.3 per cent of Canadians. Similarly, Americans gave a much higher percentage (1.43 per cent) of their income to charity than Canadians (0.61 per cent).

On the overall Generosity Index, Utah topped the list of 64 North American jurisdictions. All 13 Canadian jurisdictions performed poorly on the index. Manitoba (37th place) remains the highest ranked Canadian jurisdiction followed by Saskatchewan and Ontario (tied for 45th), Alberta and Prince Edward Island (tied for 49th), British Columbia (54th), Nova Scotia (55th), New Brunswick (57th), Newfoundland & Labrador (58th), Quebec (59th), Yukon (60th), Northwest Territories (63rd) and Nunavut (last of 64).

Charitable Giving in the 2012 Tax Year

Canadian jurisdiction
(by order of index rank)
Percentage of tax filers
donating to registered
Percentage of
combined income
donated to charity
Manitoba 25.4 0.84
Saskatchewan 24.2 0.68
Ontario 23.5 0.70
Alberta 23.3 0.70
Prince Edward Island 24.2 0.62
British Columbia 21.0 0.70
Nova Scotia 21.7 0.52
New Brunswick 20.3 0.54
Newfoundland & Labrador 20.7 0.41
Quebec 20.7 0.31
Yukon 19.5 0.32
Northwest Territories 15.5 0.25
Nunavut 9.3 0.22


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