Legislation Update

By Terrance S. Carter and Urshita Grover

Oct 2023 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on October 26, 2023



Bill S-279 on the Collection and Dissemination of Data Completes First Reading on October 4, 2023

Senator Ratna Omidvar introduced Bill S-279, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (data on registered charities) (“Bill S-279”), which completed its first reading on October 4, 2023. Bill S-279 aims to amend the Income Tax Act to ensure the collection and dissemination, in aggregate, of data on the directors, trustees, officers or like officials of registered charities in Canada and whether they are members of each of the designated groups as defined in section 3 of the Employment Equity Act (“Designated Groups”). Designated Groups means women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.

The key provisions of Bill S-279 include the requirement for registered charities to provide information, to the best of their knowledge, in their filed information returns on the number of directors, trustees, officers or like officials who are members of the Designated Groups.

The Minister would be allowed to use this information for the preparation of an annual report on diversity with regard to registered charities, which must be completed and published by June 1st each year using the aggregate data and without identifying specific charities or individuals. The Minister would be able to revoke a charity’s registration if it fails to provide the required information.

Whether there will be support in the Senate and the House of Commons to pass Bill S-279 is not yet known, but if the Bill is passed, it would no doubt result in very important information being made available to the charitable sector and the public at large.

Proposed Changes to the Charities Accounting Act in Ontario Bill 139, Less Red Tape, More Common Sense Act, 2023

A draft omnibus bill has been proposed in Ontario with the intent to “help improve services for people, reduce costs for businesses and make it easier to work with government.” Ontario Bill 139, Less Red Tape, More Common Sense Act, 2023 (“Bill 139”) proposes amendments to 20 statutes in the province, and was carried on First Reading on October 19, 2023. Among the proposed changes, Bill 139 seeks to amend the Charities Accounting Act (“CAA”) by eliminating certain notice requirements.

Subsection 1(1) of the CAA currently sets out notice requirements for certain executors or trustees for religious, educational, charitable or public purposes, as follows:

1 (1) Where, under the terms of a will or other instrument in writing, real or personal property or any right or interest in it or proceeds from it are given to or vested in a person as executor or trustee for a religious, educational, charitable or public purpose, or are to be applied by the person for any such purpose, the person shall give written notice to,

(a) the person, if any, designated in the will or other instrument as the beneficiary or as the person to receive the gift from the executor or trustee; and

(b) the Public Guardian and Trustee, in the case of an instrument other than a will.

Bill 139 seeks to eliminate the notice requirement to the Ontario Public Guardian and Trustee (“PGT”) under paragraph 1(1)(b).

As well, subsection 1(6) of the CAA currently requires notice to be accompanied by forwarding a copy of the will or other instrument:

The notice shall be accompanied by a copy of the will or other instrument; in the case of a notice under clause (1) (b), the Public Guardian and Trustee may require a notarial copy.

In this regard, Bill 139 proposes to amend subsection 1(6) to exempt corporations incorporated for a religious, educational, charitable or public purpose from including the will or other instrument with their notice. As a consequential amendment, reference to the PGT would also be removed from subsection 1(6).

These changes, which will come into force on the day Bill 139 receives Royal Assent, would serve to alleviate some of the administrative burden placed on charities, provided the Bill passes through the legislature in its current form.

Bill 139 also proposes changes to the Ontario Corporations Act, discussed in the Corporate Update, below.


Read the October 2023 Charity & NFP Law Update