Last week’s Globe and Mail article on potential changes to the way the federal government deals with charities was quite disturbing. It appears that the federal government and in particular Minister of Human Resources Diane Finley does not feel that charities are accountable enough for the public monies they receive and that they cannot show adequate results or outcomes achieved through the use of this money.
As we all know, nothing is further from the truth, and this is certainly the case in the Arts. However, instead of me reiterating others’ comments, I will simply point the way to responses to the article via the Globe’s Letters to the Editor (and also the Letters here), as well as Imagine Canada’s considered and thoughtful response. The only things I will add are that, at least for the Arts (and I’m sure other sectors of the charitable world), the accountability is already there, the reporting is thorough, and any new measures of accountability should be carefully considered before they are implemented. It’s important for government and others to remember that, although most of us in the Arts and in the charitable sector have absolutely no problem being accountable for the money we receive from the public via government and donations, the time we spend doing this leaves us less time to focus on the missions this money supports.
I suggest that Minister Finley, her staff, and any other member of government and others who wish to know more about how accountable charities are should take some time and speak to their favourite Arts organization or other non-profit about how much time is spent on accountability. It is only through active, thoughtful communication and education that we can all really know and understand each other’s worlds.