Ontario Nonprofit Network Publishes Report on Charities and COVID-19
August 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on August 27, 2020

By Esther S.J. Oh

The Ontario Nonprofit Network (“ONN”), together with the Assemblée de la Francophonie de l’Ontario (“AFO”), jointly released Risk, resilience, and rebuilding communities: The state of Ontario nonprofits three months into the pandemic (the “Report”) in August 2020. The Report follows a June 2020 survey conducted by ONN and AFO that was conducted to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Ontario’s 58,000 nonprofits and charities, and the effectiveness of the public policy and supports provided by the provincial and federal governments. A total of 1,131 charities and nonprofits in Ontario had participated in the June 2020 survey. 

The Report indicates that both federal and provincial government support have fallen short of providing the necessary help for charities and nonprofits to recover from the pandemic, as they “failed to recognize the size, scope, and economic impact of the nonprofit sector and have therefore fallen far short of what is needed to help nonprofits through the crisis and into recovery.”  The Report calls for action by governments at all levels to assist nonprofits and charities to survive and continue to service their communities into 2021, especially given the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 infections.

The Report also provides five recommendations, as follows: (1) creation of a “nonprofit sector stabilization fund” by the provincial government in support of the nonprofit sector given massive revenue losses and to prevent permanent job losses and closures; (2) acceleration of the deployment of pandemic pay and other support by the provincial government; (3) increased flexibility by the federal government to ensure the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is more responsive to charities and nonprofits; (4) federal and provincial government investment in rural broadband internet to better support small businesses in small communities across Ontario; and (5) federal and provincial government creation of a nonprofit sector advisory table to inform planning for the economic recovery, with representation from all nonprofit sectors.

The Report will be of interest to those in the charitable and not-for-profit sector, as it provides helpful insights into the challenges faced by Ontario’s nonprofits and charities, as well as the impacts on the pandemic on the sector, its workers, volunteers and the communities they serve. The Report’s observations include the impacts of the pandemic including the COVID-related mental health needs, increased intimate partner violence, and the growing realization that marginalized communities (particularly low-income households and racialized communities) have suffered disproportionate effects.

Read the August 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update