Private member's bill supported by Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois but pro-corporate Conservatives are fudging where they stand.
Ottawa (17 March 2010) - MPs will get a chance to vote sometime next month on a private member's bill to cap the salaries of the top employees of Canadian registered charities at $250,000 a year.
The proposed legislation would also force charities to disclose the names and salaries of their five top-paid employees each year.
Albina Guarnieri, Liberal MP for the Toronto area riding of Mississauga East-Cooksville, introduced the bill after learning that $2.7 million was paid in salary and severance last year to the head of the SickKids Foundation.
The exorbitant payout came to light only because the charity was also registered in the U.S., where transparency is required. No such law exists in Canada.
The MP's bill is supported by her own party, the NDP and Bloc Québécois but the Conservatives are apparently opposed, saying they favour transparency but will not commit to supporting the proposal.
Guarnieri says she has included a loophole to allow for salaries greater than $250,000 if the minister of national revenue is satisfied that there is a good reason to do so.
Otherwise, charity paying an employee more than $250,000 a year would be de-registered and lose the tax-exempt status it now enjoys. There are approximately 85,000 registered charities in Canada distributing billions a year in tax credits to citizens who support them.
Guarnieri told the Toronto Globe and Mail she asked the Library of Parliament to research the salaries of charity executives in Canada and in spite of its legendary reputation for research it could only “scrape together bits and pieces" of information on the issue.
However, she was able to learn some of the ways charities blow money on themselves - “dining club memberships, golf memberships, fitness memberships, business class travel, so-called ‘flexible’ expense account provisions and even scholarship programs for their own kids.”
Guarnieri says Canadians ought to know where their money is going when they give to good causes such as relief for Haitian earthquake victims and that her bill would make it possible for them to check things out before writing a cheque.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE