Charities doing government work

Posted on November 27, 2013 in Inclusion Policy Context – Opinion/Readers’ letters – Re: Charity disputes OPSEU ad ‘facts,’ Letter Nov. 21
Nov 26 2013.   P.E. McGrail

Charity disputes OPSEU ad ‘facts,’ Letter Nov. 21

Andria Spindel, president and CEO of the March of Dimes Canada, should not be playing the “charity” card. Nor should OPSEU.

I do not wish to disparage the valuable work done by the March of Dimes. This is a comment on how our governments are delivering services through charities — using taxpayer dollars — with little public scrutiny and accountability.

Taxpayers should understand that when they demand tax cuts, governments will offload their responsibilities elsewhere — beyond the public eye. Charities are being misused and abused. Poorly paid “charity” employees often provide the government services that our tax dollars pay for.

Despite the March of Dimes’ facade as a registered charity, it is, in fact, the privatized delivery of government services. Both its own 2013 financial statements and the latest form T3010, published on the CRA website, indicate that over 90 per cent of the total revenues of $87 million comes from various levels of government. The amount received from receipted donations and other fundraising activities ($4.3 million) is a poor return on fundraising expenditures of $1.6 million.

According to the Form T3010, this organization has 915 full-time and 997 part-time employees. At least four of them earn more than $100,000. However, “charities” are not required to report these salaries on Ontario’s sunshine list because they are, technically, not paid to government employees.

I cannot comment on the reasonableness of any compensation paid by the March of Dimes. It is a large organization. On the whole, it does not appear that management salaries are high given the responsibilities assumed. This is not always the case.

The MOD is unique in that many of its workers are unionized. Presumably, these workers are better compensated than workers at other so-called charities who often receive low wages and none of the protections or benefits of government employees.

In practice, charities are very poorly regulated in Canada. The CRA has few resources to provide proper oversight of organizations, largely funded by tax dollars. Spending decisions are made by boards who are accountable only to their donors and grantors.

Many charities are excellent advocates for the disadvantaged and promote awareness or causes in the public’s interest. But it is becoming very difficult to distinguish these charities from those that are being used for other purposes.

Charities will have to work much harder to secure the public’s trust as a result.

P.E. McGrail, Brampton

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