Charity Law Reform in Canada: Moving from Patchwork to Substantive Reform


  • Samuel Singer



This article explores the history of charity law reform in Canada, focusing on calls for a legislative definition of charitable purposes and changes to the political activity rules. It traces the trajectory of three periods of charity law reform advocacy in Canada since 1978, during which advocates have called not only for reform to the political activity rules but also more broadly for the modernization of Canadian charity law. Despite decades of charity law reform proposals, most charity law reform in Canada to date has constituted a patchwork of administrative and legal changes. Canadian charity law is at a crossroads after the broad recommendations of the 2017 Report of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities and the 2018 legislative changes eliminating certain restrictions on charities’ political activities. It is time for more substantive charity law reform, drawing from multiple law reform proposals presented over the last 40 years, and from charity law reform in other jurisdictions.