For immediate release
OTTAWA (21 January 2016) – Canada Without Poverty (CWP) welcomes the announcement by the Federal Revenue Minister, Diane Lebouthillier, that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will be winding down its political audits program. These audits have resulted in the stifling of free speech, and have caused an advocacy chill across the charitable sector, disenfranchising the rights of vulnerable populations across Canada. CWP, a charity devoted to the relief of poverty, has felt the effects of these political audit since 2012.
While this is a positive development, to ensure that charities are able use their voices effectively, changes to the Income Tax Act (ITA) must be made. Specifically section 149.1(6.2), needs to be rescinded or overhauled as its there where the limitations on political activities for charitable ends is rooted.
This past July, CWP President Harriett McLachlan – who lived in poverty for more than 30 years – addressed the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), stating that, “The result of these provisions is that charitable organizations are silenced. And by silencing organizations the State effectively silences the constituents those organizations represent.” The HRC remarked that such audits have resulted in government suppression of political, social and human rights advocacy.
CWP Executive Director, Leilani Farha, stated “While this announcement is an important first step, modernizing the regulation of charities doesn’t stop here. The root of the problem is the antiquated provision in the Income Tax Act. Reforming this legislation should be a priority otherwise, people living in poverty risk being silenced at the whim of government.”
“By limiting political activity in the ITA, the government creates conditions where charities are afraid to encourage systemic change. The ITA needs to reflect the fact that to relieve poverty, what’s required is for organizations like Canada Without Poverty to push for changes to policies and laws which entrench or cause poverty,” Farha said.
CWP President, Harriett McLachlan added, “Poor people are neglected and ignored. We rely on organizations like CWP to advocate for policy changes that promote and protect our human rights. This is essential to combating the stigmatization of the almost 5 million people in poverty in Canada.”
CWP is awaiting further details from the CRA on the status of our audit.
For more information:
Communications and Development Coordinator