February 11 was budget day in Canada, and arts and culture groups across Canada—along with the broader charitable sector—have reason to be pleased with the content of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s budget. “The specific references to arts and culture, and the positioning of our sector as a key contributor to the quality of life in Canadian communities, would be positive in any federal budget,” said Katherine Carleton, Orchestras Canada’s executive director. “Combined with the early announcement of the renewal of key funding envelopes at the Department of Canadian Heritage, I’d call Budget 2014 very good news for Canadian orchestras.”
Here’s a quick run-down of the arts and charity-specific measures announced in the budget.
The budget included the announcement—a year early– of the renewal of the Canada Funds at the Department of Canadian Heritage, due to expire in March 2015. Notably, this measure was one of three recommendations made by Orchestras Canada in our pre-budget brief this year. The $105 million investment, effective 2015-16, includes:
• $25 million for the Canada Council for the Arts (supplementary funding that had been in place at Council since 2001, but was due to expire in 2015).
• $30.1 million for the Canada Cultural Investment Fund (a suite of programs that includes the Endowment Incentives program)
• $30 million for the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund.
• $18 million for the Canada Arts Presentation Fund.
• $1.8 million for the Fathers of Confederation Buildings Trust.
As the budget said, “this investment will ensure that Canadians continue to enjoy access to a great diversity of Canadian arts and culture.”
While this is neither new nor increased funding, today’s announcement ensures that important programs at the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council can continue and evolve.
The budget also included a number of initiatives designed to assist charities in their work, including
• Investments in technology at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to allow charities to apply for registration and file their annual information returns electronically
• Establishment by the CRA of an enhanced web presence on charitable giving trends and characteristics in Canada
• Amendments to the Criminal Code to allow charities to conduct various aspects of lotteries through the use of a computer, using modern e-commerce methods for the purchasing, processing and issuing of lottery tickets and issuing of receipts to donors
• Increased flexibility for trustees of individuals’ estates to apply charitable donation credits against the income tax liabilities of the individual or the estate.
Orchestras Canada has written to Minister Flaherty, Minister Glover, and the three MPs with whom we met in November to discuss our recommendations, to thank them for their support: Minister Joe Oliver, Parliament Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage Rick Dykstra, and Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett.
We urge you to join us in letting your MP know how you feel about these measures, and we’ve prepared templates that you can customize with information about your own orchestra, and the impact these measures will have. You can find them on the OC website here.