Conservative leader calls on Ottawa to temporarily increase donation tax credit for 2020
OTTAWA -- Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is calling on the federal government to temporarily increase the Charitable Donation Tax Credit for 2020 and remove the capital gains tax on charitable donations, to support the strained charitable sector impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Speaking in Regina on Monday, Scheer said this move would "mobilize charitable contributions to hospitals, churches, food banks, and shelters, and allow businesses that are in a position to do so to do more to help charitable giving."
With a dip in donations, charities and food banks have been hit hard by the pandemic. To address this, the government has pledged $100 million for Canadian food banks and centres focused on food insecurity.
On how much the increase would cost, Scheer said it would depend on what limit the government sets.
"Depending on which limit the government agrees to, the costing would depend on that but the overall costs for charitable giving as it exists right now would be $3 billion," said Scheer.
He added the proposal wouldn’t require a strenuous policy change, rather "just a change in a line in the CRA tax code."
The Emergency Coalition of Canadian Charities has already called on the federal government for immediate relief – specifically a $10-billion stabilization fund – which in part, requests that the government’s raise the Charitable Donation Tax Credit from 50 to 75 per cent.
The Conservatives have criticized the Liberals for not being transparent in their COVID-19 response thus far. Scheer last week demanded that the federal government release modelling data that would project more precisely how long emergency measures will be in effect.
A number of provincial governments, including British Columbia and Ontario, have chosen to publicize the data guiding decision-making in each region.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeated during his daily press briefings that the government is holding off on releasing this information until it is certain of its accuracy, but that it will be made public "soon."
Starting today, Canadians who are out of work because of the COVID-19 crisis can start applying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. To avoid backlog, the federal government is staggering the application process. Those born between January and March are eligible to apply for the $500 a week credit on Mondays.
Conservative MP and finance critic Pierre Poilievre on Sunday poked holes in this plan, specifically for its failure to support entrepreneurs and small businesses owners who pay themselves in dividends.
He noted it also prevents workers from being able to take on any paying job during this time.
"If they work an earn any money, during the period when they’re receiving the benefit, they loose the benefit all together, meaning they’re effectively banned from doing any kind of work that might help keep their business open," said Poilievre.
MPs are set to next reconvene on April 20, however an emergency session is expected to be held before then to review and debate the Liberals' amended wage subsidy program. The original legislation offered a 10 per cent subsidy, which was later increased to 75 per cent.
Liberal House Leader Pablo Rodriguez Sunday wrote to House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota to inquire whether future House of Commons’ debates could be done virtually.
Scheer on Monday said he would like to continue to see in-person sittings with a reduced number of MPs to meet social gathering protocol and only virtual meetings for committee requirements.
"We are pushing for regular accountability and oversight sessions in the House of Commons. That is the best place to hold ministers responsible for their departments and for their actions," said Scheer.