Legislation Update 
June 2021 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on June 24, 2021

By Ryan M. Prendergast

   
 

Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

In a step towards reconciliation, legislation seeking to align Canadian law with a universal international human rights instrument, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UNDRIP”), received Royal Assent on June 21, 2021. Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “represents a critical step in recognizing, promoting, protecting and upholding the human rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada,” according to a joint statement by the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.

Bill C-15 affirms the UNDRIP’s application in Canadian law and provides a framework for the federal government to implement the UNDRIP. Further to this, Bill C-15 requires the federal government to take “all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the [UNDRIP], and must prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration.” The federal government will be required to provide annual reports to Parliament, prepared in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, setting out the progress made with ensuring Canadians laws are consistent with UNDRIP and in implementing the action plan.

Bill C-30, Budget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1 Passes Third Reading in House of Commons

The first federal budget bill for 2021 has passed through the House of Commons, and is now before the Senate. Bill C-30, Budget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1, passed Third Reading in the House of Commons on June 23, 2021 and entered First Reading in the Senate on the same day. Bill C-30 includes amendments to the Income Tax Act that will impact charities and not-for-profits, as discussed in Charity & NFP Law Bulletin No. 492, including amendments for registered journalism organizations as a category of qualified donees (described in the June 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update), enhanced anti-terrorism provisions, an expanded definition of ineligible individuals, and provisions concerning suspension of receipting for false statements. The Senate will sit until June 29, 2021 before it breaks for the summer, and it is anticipated that Bill C-30 will be on their agenda with the aim of passing the Bill before the summer break.

Ontario Bill 307, Protecting Elections and Defending Democracy Act, 2021

The Government of Ontario has invoked the notwithstanding clause to pass a provincial bill that regulates third party political advertising before an election, including by charities and not-for-profits. Sections of Bill 254, the Protecting Ontario Elections Act, 2021 (“Bill 254”), which received Royal Assent April 19, 2021, were struck down as unconstitutional by the Ontario Superior Court on June 8 (the “Decision”). Bill 254 amended the Election Finances Act, 2017 (the “Act”) including a provision that extended the “pre-election period” from six to 12 months. In response to the Decision, the provincial government introduced Bill 307, Protecting Elections and Defending Democracy Act, 2021, which received Royal Assent on June 14 (“Bill 307”), re-enacting provisions from Bill 254 notwithstanding that they are unconstitutional. In this regard, the 12-month pre-election period for registering and reporting financial activities leading up to fixed election dates in Ontario has been re-enacted. Charities and not-for-profits that meet the $500 threshold for spending on election advertising within a period of 12 months prior to fixed election dates are therefore required to register and file election financing reports.

Clause 53.1 of Bill 307 invokes subsection 33(1) — known as the “notwithstanding clause” — of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”), a seldom-invoked provision that allows a province to enact legislation “notwithstanding” provisions of the Charter. The use of the notwithstanding clause in Bill 307 is, however, being challenged, according an announcement by Working Families that it will be launching a constitutional challenge of the Government’s use of the clause in Bill 307.

Alberta Bill 58, Freedom to Care Act

Alberta is extending liability protection for volunteers and will “make it easier for non-profit organizations to identify and access existing exemptions to regulations”. Alberta’s Bill 58, Freedom to Care Act received Royal Assent on June 17, 2021, and will come into force on September 1, 2021.

The Freedom to Care Act provides that volunteers of a non-profit organization (which, as defined in the Bill, may include charities, societies, and other not-for-profits) or the Crown are not liable for damage caused by acts or omissions on behalf of the organization, provided the damage is not caused by wilful, reckless or criminal misconduct or gross negligence; while operating a vehicle; or caused while a volunteer was unlawfully impaired by alcohol or drugs. Further, to be exempt from liability, volunteers must have been acting within the scope of their responsibilities in the organization, and been properly licensed, certified or authorized, where required by law. Further, the Freedom to Care Act does not affect non-profit organizations’ liability for damage for which the volunteer has been exempted from liability.

Where a non-profit organization submits a request for exemption from regulations under other Acts, the Freedom to Care Act will also allow an exemption to be granted for a specified, limited period of time. According to a Government of Alberta announcement, this provision has been included to ease the burden on non-profit organizations that are subject to regulations for commercial purposes “that prevent them from addressing immediate needs in their communities.”

Quebec Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec

Quebec’s Minister Responsible for the French Language, Simon Jolin-Barrette, introduced Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec to the National Assembly of Quebec on May 13, 2021. Broadly speaking Bill 96 affirms that Quebec’s only official language is French, proposes to amend the Charter of the French language and the Civil Code of Quebec, among other legislation, and proposes broad amendments with regard to the French language, including French as the only language required for work in the province.

Of particular note, Bill 96 proposes to amend the language rules regarding trademark, signage and posters under the Charter of the French language, which already requires Quebec organizations, including charities and not-for-profits, with non-French trademarks on outdoor signage to ensure a “sufficient presence of French” on outside signage, as discussed in the October 2019 Charity & NFP Law Update. Proposed amendments under Bill 96 would make this requirement more onerous on charities and not-for-profits with non-French trademarks. While Bill 96 explicitly allows for trademarks on public signs and posters to be drawn up in a language other than French provided that they are registered under the Trademarks Act, it also requires that French be “markedly predominant” where a non-French trademark on a public sign or poster is visible from outside premises.

   
 

Read the June 2021 Charity & NFP Law Update