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

By Urshita Grover

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



Statistics Canada released its report on data relating to non-profit organizations (“NPOs”), which for purposes of its report include both not-for-profits and charities, located in rural and small town (“RST”) areas in Canada on February 12, 2024 (the “Report”). The findings in the Report are sourced from the Rural Canada Non-Profits, 2021 database (the “Database”), which provides information on the counts, revenue, employment and activities of active NPOs in RST areas in Canada in 2021. The Database considers RST areas as those outside census metropolitan areas (“CMAs”) and census agglomerations (“CAs”), with those within CMAs and CAs are considered urban. Active NPOs in the Database are defined as organizations that operate for a purpose other than profit and report revenues or employment for the reference year.

The Report showed that there was an overall increase in total revenues and employment by active NPOs in RST areas despite a decline in numbers. Canada had over 135,000 active NPOs in 2021, with relatively stable numbers and witnessing only an increase of 0.9% from 2020 to 2021, which contributed to an overall increase of revenue generated by active NPOs by 8.2%. However, there was a notable decline of 2.6% in the NPOs operating within RST areas. Despite this decline, RST areas still accommodated over one-fifth of active NPOs, employing over 444,000 individuals and generating $27.0 billion in total revenue which represented a 15.6% increase from the previous year. In contrast, NPOs in urban areas across Canada grew by 1.9% and experienced a 7.6% revenue increase, reaching $300.9 billion.

The territories, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Alberta saw the most significant reductions in active NPOs, while Ontario experienced a modest increase over this period. In terms of distribution, active NPOs in RST areas of Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia constituted the majority of RST NPOs, while those in urban areas of Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta dominated the urban NPO landscape.

Employment in RST NPOs rose by 3.8%, contrasting with a decline of 1.4% in urban NPOs from 2020 to 2021.

The Report also examined common activities by NPOs in RST areas. The primary activities for RST NPOs included primarily religious activities, sports, recreation, and social clubs, which remained consistent since 2019, mirroring the trends observed in urban NPOs. Of note, nearly one in four active NPOs in RST areas of Canada (23.4%) were engaged in religious activities in 2021, whereas the predominant activities for urban NPOs were in sports, recreation and social clubs (25.8%).


Read the February 2024 Charity & NFP Law Update