Fewer Canadians giving to charity, but more is being given

Fewer and fewer Canadians are giving to charity, tax data shows. (But those who do give are giving more.).
Fewer and fewer Canadians are giving to charity, tax data shows. (But those who do give are giving more.). THE CANADIAN PRESS

Fewer and fewer Canadians are giving to charity, tax data shows. But those who do give are giving more.

In 2015, about a fifth of Canadians claimed a donation to charity on their tax returns, down from more than a quarter in 1998. The number has declined steadily:

READ: Charitable giving in Canada drops to 10-year low, according to tax data

However, the total amount given has increased just as steadily:

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READ: Larger tax credits for charitable donations would cost Ottawa $1.7B more this year: watchdog

Manitoba, P.E.I. and Saskatchewan had the highest percentage of tax filers claiming donations, while Quebec and New Brunswick had the lowest.

It’s not clear what role religious observance plays in the data — tax returns don’t break out secular donations to charities like the United Way from routine contributions to religious organizations by their members.

However, it does hint at one explanation for strong regional differences. Steinbach, Man., where donations are far higher than elsewhere in Canada, has a large Mennonite community. Religious observance in Quebec, on the other hand, cratered in the 1960s and never recovered.

READ: What you should know about charitable donations come tax time

How communities might differ if we looked only at giving to secular charities isn’t clear.

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StatsCan hasn’t gathered high-quality data about religious affiliation since 2001, and won’t do so again until 2021.

StatsCan tracked median charitable donations in 155 Canadian communities. Here are the most and least generous (rounded numbers mean that many were tied).


1Steinbach, Manitoba $  1,900.00
2Lacombe, Alberta $     900.00
3Abbotsford-Mission, British Columbia $     720.00
4Chilliwack, British Columbia $     650.00
5Lethbridge, Alberta $     600.00
6Wood Buffalo, Alberta $     590.00
7Miramichi, New Brunswick $     580.00
8Wetaskiwin, Alberta $     500.00
9Terrace, British Columbia $     500.00
10Portage la Prairie, Manitoba $     500.00
11Dawson Creek, British Columbia $     500.00
12Camrose, Alberta $     500.00


139Victoriaville, Quebec $     100.00
140Trois-Rivières, Quebec $     100.00
141Thetford Mines, Quebec $     100.00
142Sorel-Tracy, Quebec $     100.00
143Shawinigan, Quebec $     100.00
144Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec $     100.00
145Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec $     100.00
146Saint-Georges, Quebec $     100.00
147Saguenay, Quebec $     100.00
148Rimouski, Quebec $     100.00
149Matane, Quebec $     100.00
150Drummondville, Quebec $     100.00
151Amos, Quebec $     100.00
152Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec $        90.00
153Campbellton, Quebec part $        90.00
154Val-d’Or, Quebec $        80.00
155Thompson, Manitoba $        60.00


WATCH: A new report says the rising cost of living in B.C. is leading to a reduction in charitable giving by British Columbians. But as Jill Bennett reports, many are finding other ways to help.

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British Columbians giving less to charity – Dec 21, 2016