Motion Introduced in Senate to Improve Data Collection about Diversity of Boards of Charities and NFPs
Feb 2022 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on February 24 2022

By Esther S.J. Oh
   
 

On February 8, 2022, the Honourable Senator Ratna Omidvar introduced a motion before the Senate to adopt one of the recommendations emanating from the report of the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector (the “Report”) which was adopted by the Senate on November 3, 2020. Recommendation 8, in its entirety, recommends:

That the Government of Canada, through the CRA, include questions on both the T3010 (for registered charities) and the T1044 (for federally incorporated not-for-profit corporations) on diversity representation on boards of directors based on existing Employment Equity guidelines.

In her presentation before the Senate, Senator Omidvar called the recommendation “a rather straightforward, practical and eminently doable proposal” in the context of discussions regarding anti-racism and inclusion at the Senate. She pointed out that the proposed change would impact the charitable and not-for-profit sector which is “an incredibly important sector, that helps Canadians get through ordinary and extraordinary times”, that “…. covers all aspects of life in Canada, from religion, to health, to culture, to poverty and to the environment”. She noted while the sector employs close to 2.5 million people and contributes 8.2% to Canada’s GDP, it also suffers from a lack of consistent data collection essential for making decisions, including policy decisions.

Senator Omidvar mentioned other examples where data about diversity representation on boards of directors has been gathered. Under the Canada Business Corporations Act, federally incorporated distributing corporations must provide shareholders with information about diversity among directors and senior management. In addition, in December 2020, Statistics Canada conducted a crowdsourced voluntary survey of the sector asking board members about socio-demographic information, including their race, gender, sexual orientation, age, immigration status and disability. The survey found that while women were equitably represented on these boards, racialized people, immigrants and people with disabilities were not.

Senator Omidvar’s proposal involves a request that the Minister responsible for the CRA add a question on both the T1044 and T3010 forms (which not-for-profits and charities are required to file annually) asking about the diversity of an organization’s board members. This is a simple step which does not involve complicated or time-consuming procedures otherwise required to amend legislation.

Senator Omidvar ended her presentation with the following comments, “If we truly want this next decade to be a decade of reconciliation and about inclusion, hope and respect for the diversity of Canada, then we must hear the voices of Indigenous peoples, racialized communities and other marginalized groups not just in universities, courtrooms and in the Senate but also in the boardrooms of our many well-meaning charities and not-for-profit organizations.”

   
 

Read the February 2022 Charity & NFP Law Update