In the June 2010 issue of this Newsletter, we reported on an initiative of the Ontario government that sought to begin a constructive conversation with the not-for-profit sector in Ontario. This project – referred to as the Partnership Project – was designed to seek advice and ideas on ways to renew, streamline, and modernize the relationship between the Ontario government and Ontario’s not-for-profit sector.
The Ontario government has released its report on The Partnership Project. It is described as a statement of the importance of the not-for-profit sector, its impact on Ontarians and Ontario’s communities and the significant role the sector plays in the Ontario economy.
Given that there is no registry in Ontario of not-for-profit organizations as such, the report points out that the actual number of not-for-profits in Ontario is unknown. There are more than 46,000 such organizations if we count incorporated not-for-profits and registered charities in Ontario (based on a 2003 Imagine Canada survey). The number of unincorporated organizations operating in Ontario has never been counted. It is estimated that the section employs approximately 1 million people and that 5 million people volunteer in the sector. It is estimated that the total economic impact of the sector is nearly $50 billion.
The Partnership Project focused on collaboration between government and not-for-profits, policy and legislative frameworks, funding mechanisms and new approaches to financing, and more effective methods for coordinating policy, research, communication, and practice. The Partnership Project hosted in-person regional and sub-sector roundtables around the province to solicit the views of a cross-section of Ontarians, provided an opportunity for online engagement through its website and brought together sector experts through a research advisory group.
In its report, the Partnership Project makes the following recommendations to the Ontario government:
- Promote Respect and Recognition – the report recommends the appointment of a Minister responsible for and accountable to the sector.
- Foster Coordination and Collaboration – the report recommends the creation of a coordinating body within the government to act as a central point of contact for the sector.
- Build Sector Capacity – the report makes recommendations to address funding challenges and to support new ways to reinvigorate Ontario’s tradition of volunteerism.
- Modernize, Standardize and Streamline – the report makes general recommendations regarding leveraging technology and a specific recommendation to establish an online portal which will act as a one-stop shop for information on new laws, new programs, sources of funding, and consultation opportunities.
- Invest in Social Innovation – the report encourages working with the Federal Government and Canadian financial institutions to address regulatory and legal barriers to social innovation (for instance, the limitations of charity law when applied to social businesses) and make a range of social financing tools available to the sector.
We look forward to the Ontario government’s response to these recommendations, and hope that these recommendations, as well as further feedback from and discussion with the sector, will lead to the implementation of these and other positive changes over the next few years.