Humanitarian Aid Authorization Proposed in Bill C-41

By Terrance S. Carter, Nancy E. Claridge, Sean S. Carter and Lynne M. Westerhof

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





When the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in August 2021, several crises ensued, including a dire need for humanitarian aid in the region. Unfortunately, Canadian non-governmental organizations (“NGOs”) ran into difficulty in providing aid to the people in Afghanistan due to Canada’s overly broad anti-terrorist legislation. These issues were highlighted in a report from the House of Common’s Special Committee on Afghanistan, “Honouring Canada’s Legacy in Afghanistan: Responding to the Humanitarian Crisis and Helping People Reach Safety” released in June 2022, as well as in the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights report, “Interim Report on Canada’s Restrictions on Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan” released December 14, 2022.[2] Specifically, these reports identified that the federal government needs to act quickly so that registered Canadian humanitarian organizations “have the clarity and assurances needed – such as carve-outs or exemptions – to deliver humanitarian assistance” and should “introduce legislation to create an explicit humanitarian exemption to section 83.03(b) of the Criminal Code”. In response, the Minister of Public Safety introduced Bill C-41, “An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts” in the House of Commons on March 9, 2023. The changes introduced by Bill C-41 are intended to “support Canada’s deep commitment to the people of Afghanistan, while upholding [Canada’s] domestic and international obligations to combat terrorism.”


Read more in the AML/ATF and Charity Law Alert No. 51