Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I hope this government representative and, indeed, all senators have taken time to read the report of the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector and its 42 recommendations to help the charitable, voluntary and non-profit sectors across the country. An estimated 86,000 registered charities and 85,000 non-profit organizations are engaged in public benefit activities that generate $150 billion to the national economy, which represents approximately 8.1 per cent of the GDP. That is no small change and the sector accomplishes what governments cannot get done.
Government leader, I was discouraged to hear no mention of charities or the charitable sector in the Speech from the Throne. Leaders of political parties in this country cannot say they’re not aware of this. A group of us involved in the sector sent copies of the report to the leaders of all political parties early in the campaign and encouraged them to take the document and make it part of their platform.
Is the government aware of this important report and what action can we expect on our recommendations?
Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for his question and also for his leadership in the study of this issue in the previous Parliament. Let me assure the honourable senator that the government is aware of the report, that the report will, I’m sure, find its way into the considerations of the government on a wide range of policies and considerations with respect to the charitable sector. There are other occasions than the Speech from the Throne for the government to present its views and intentions.