Those who attend religious services weekly give 3.5 times more to charity than those who do not.

Family, charity, compassion must be priorities in 2012 budget process, EFC says

By 
  • February 29, 2012

OTTAWA - The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) is urging the federal government to make families, compassion and charities priorities in its upcoming 2012 budget.

Though the national association for Evangelical Christians does not usually engage in pre-budget consultations, it stressed that “a budget is fundamentally a moral document.” In a budget, political leaders “decide what is ‘right and wrong’ for public expenditure, and as such biblical principles are relevant to the budgeting process.”

The budget should shore up the key building blocks of Canada, it said.

“The stability of Canadian families underlies and evidences the stability of the nation. Our long history of compassion towards the less fortunate, at home and abroad, testified to the heart of the Canadian people,” it said.

“Canadian charities, particularly religious charities, have been significant in the development of Canada’s health, education and compassionate response mechanisms and continue to be vital to the life of Canadians and Canadians’ expression of compassion towards those in need.”

For families, the EFC urged the implementation of a “Family Tax Cut” and moving towards income splitting.

“Current tax laws penalize single-income families, the very ones who often struggle the most financially, by requiring them to pay up to 37 per cent more than dual-income families earning the same amount,” the report said.

The Conservatives promised income splitting after the government achieves a balanced budget — something that may take until 2016-17 to achieve, the report said.  

“Canadian families need tax relief today.”

The report highlights the problems faced by families in a difficult economy, where taxes are rising but incomes are not keeping pace with inflation.  

“We know the primary stressor on marriage, and by extension the family, is money,” it said.

The report also looks at ways the government can better serve the poor, noting that some charitable measures rely on government funding or tax incentives to reach those who need help. It urged the government to adopt a national poverty-reduction strategy and a national housing strategy.

The EFC also urged continued co-operation with charities and organizations that deliver charitable help overseas, such as continuing programs of matching donor funds.

The document explained the relationship of religious belief to higher levels of charitable giving and volunteering and the need to support the charitable and volunteer sector.  

“The charitable benefit of religion is that it creates broadly generous citizens, without whose generosity the charitable sector would be substantially diminished,” the EFC said, noting that those who attend religious services weekly give 3.5 times more to charity than those who do not.

But the charitable sector is facing challenges as the population ages and financial pressures mount.  

“When Canadians of modest incomes are financially squeezed they will have reduced capacity for giving and for volunteering,” the EFC warns. “Tax-credit policies that leave more money in the hands of Canadians with modest incomes will have a substantial impact on the resources made available to the charitable sector.”

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