Here is a document from finance released today Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses It is a large package of different measures from the Government of Canada to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

It outlines some significant incentives and changes that will impact individuals, businesses and charities.  The only specific reference to charities was an employee subsidy “Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.”

Fundamentally when Canadian individuals and businesses are better off it reduces the load on charities.   The measures include increasing the GST credit for “over 12 million low- and modest-income families” which will put about $600 into the hands of a couple or $400 for an individual.  Increasing Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts by $300 per child will also be very helpful.   That is government at work – charities simply don’t have the capacity to do that.

There is a reference  to “For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.”  I assume that CRA may temporarily suspend audits of charities but there has been no announcement that I have seen on that.

Also there is a note that “The Liaison Officer service offers help to owners of small businesses to understand their tax obligations. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information during these challenging times by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.” – waiting to hear from the Charities Directorate if they will be doing something special like online programs etc.

The main things that governments can do are not touched on in this announcement – namely to maintain existing funding ie. stop cuts to programs.   We have a number of provincial governments that over the last few months and years have started to cut funding to charities.  A 10% cut in government funding is more than all funds that are fundraised by charities.