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Canadians charity donation hits 10-year low

The amount Canadians donate to charities lags far behind the amount Americans give. — Submitted photo

The amount Canadians donate to charities —as a share of their income — has hit a 10-year low and lags far behind the amount Americans give, finds a new study by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“The holiday season is a time to reflect on giving, and with Canadians becoming less generous every year, charities face greater challenges to secure resources to help those in need,” said Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of Generosity in Canada and the United States: The 2017 Generosity Index.

The study finds that approximately one-in-five Canadian tax-filers (20.9 per cent) claimed charitable donations on their tax return in 2015, the most recent year of available data, compared to 24.5 per cent — almost one-in-four — Americans.

Crucially, the total amount donated by Canadians — just 0.56 per cent of income — is the lowest amount in a decade and down from a 10-year peak of 0.78 per cent in 2006.

By comparison, American tax-filers donated 1.76 per cent of their income to registered charities in 2015 — more than three times the percentage Canadians claimed.

Moreover, the average dollar amount claimed in Canada was $1,699 compared to $6,058 in the U.S. (in local currencies). And tellingly, the lowest average claim of any state — $3,231 USD in Rhode Island — was still higher than the highest average claim of any province — $2,581 CAD in Alberta.

Overall, according to the index of charitable giving for American states and Canadian provinces/territories, Utah remains the most generous. Manitoba, which ranks 37th overall, is again the most generous Canadian province, followed by Prince Edward Island (48), Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario (all tied at 49th), British Columbia (54), Nova Scotia (55), New Brunswick (57), Newfoundland & Labrador (58), Quebec (59), Yukon (61), the Northwest Territories (63) and Nunavut at 64th out of 64.

“Canadians might be surprised to learn that Americans are far more generous when it comes to claimed donations to registered charities, and that’s been the case for many years,” Lammam said.