Statistics Canada Releases Stats on NPOs in Rural and Small Town Canada

By Esther S.J. Oh

Mar 2023 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on March 30, 2023



New statistics have been released by Statistics Canada on non-profit organizations (“NPOs”) in rural and small towns in Canada. Released on March 3, 2023, Non-profit organizations in rural and small town of Canada, 2020 (the “Report”) provides details on the activities of NPOs in rural and small town areas, which are considered to be outside of census metropolitan areas/census agglomerations (CMAs/CAs).  The information in the Report is based on results from the Rural Canada Non-Profits (“RCNP”) Metadata and User Guide, 2020, which was created from data obtained from the Statistics Canada Business Register. Of note, the RCNP database defines NPOs as “organizations that operate for a purpose other than profit [including] social, recreational or hobby groups; certain amateur sports organizations; certain festival organizations; and charities.”

According to the report, nearly one-quarter of the 134,000 Canadian NPOs were in rural and small-town Canada, employing over 428,000 people. While more than 30,000 NPOs were active in rural and small-town Canada in 2022 (representing a 2.7% increase from 2019), those in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia comprised 65.3% of that number, with Atlantic Canada representing 15.5%.

Almost $23.4 billion in revenue was generated by NPOs in rural and small-town Canada, representing 7.7% of the $303.1 billion in revenue generated by NPOs across Canada as a whole. 

The report also indicates that NPOs with activities in religion “remained predominant” in rural and small-town Canada, followed by sports, recreation and social clubs, and social services. Of note, the report indicates that rural and small-town NPOs in health activities saw the greatest increase in revenues from 2019 to 2020, rising 28.3%, “perhaps owing to challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic”. This was followed by NPOs involved in law, advocacy and politics, which saw an 11% increase in revenue. Conversely, NPOs in philanthropic intermediaries and voluntarism promotion and culture and recreation saw significant decreases between 2019 and 2020. From 2019 to 2020, the revenue of rural and small-town organizations involved in religious activities declined by 3.4%, while those in urban areas saw their revenue increase by 3.5% over the same period.

Close to four-fifths of NPO employees in rural and small-town Canada worked in health, education and research, and social services and the report found that rural and small-town Canada NPOs engaged in health activities saw a 25.9% increase in employment levels, while those engaged in development and housing activities saw a 15.1% decrease.


Read the March 2023 Charity & NFP Law Update