Legislation Update

By Terrance S. Carter and Adriel N. Clayton

Feb 2024 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on February 29, 2024



Senate Bill Seeks to Address Governance Data Gap in the Charitable Sector

Senate Bill S-279, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (data on registered charities), was introduced by the Honourable Senator Ratna Omidvar on October 4, 2023. Bill S-279’s stated purpose is to “[amend] the Income Tax Act to require that registered charities provide certain demographic data concerning their officers to the Minister of National Revenue, who must compile that information for reporting purposes.”

On Thursday, February 8, 2024, Senator Omidvar addressed the objectives of Bill S-279 in its second reading in the Senate by stating that the legislation aims to foster transparency and inclusivity within the charitable sector. The proposed legislation seeks to mandate the annual collection and public disclosure of diversity data concerning charity governance, providing tangible evidence to assess progress and address any disparities.

Acknowledging the significant economic and employment contributions of the charitable sector to Canada, Senator Omidvar highlighted the challenge of inconsistent governance data collection, hindering effective decision-making and policy development.

Bill S-279 proposes to authorize the collection of diversity data under the Income Tax Act, based upon a recommendation from the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector and similar requirements in the corporate sector.

Senator Omidvar underscored the dearth of comprehensive data on charity board compositions, citing findings from a 2020 Statistics Canada survey revealing representational disparities, especially along racial lines. Advocating for regular data collection to track progress, Senator Omidvar drew parallels with employment equity policies, suggesting federally regulated charities should adhere to similar guidelines.

In her request for support for Bill S-279, Senator Omidvar stressed the importance of amplifying the voices of Indigenous peoples, marginalized communities, and racialized groups in charity decision-making. Bill S-279 presents itself as a holistic approach to addressing governance deficiencies in the sector, aligning with the call for governance equity. Bill S-279 is currently still in its second reading in the Senate, and if it passes third reading, it will then go to the House of Commons for consideration if it is to become law.


Read the February 2024 Charity & NFP Law Update