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Posted June 5, 2012

Black Out

Website ‘BLACK OUT’ Held By Social Groups

Budget Bill C-38 Instigates Protest among Local Charities

Kitchener/Waterloo - Early yesterday morning, the Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo joined over 13,000 other organizations across Canada in a website blackout.

This blackout was meant to raise awareness of the Omnibus budget bill C-38. The 425-page bill, amends 60 acts, and repeals 6 others.

The involved groups say "the lack of process in discussion and consideration has led the bill itself to be challenged by many as being undemocratic." In their release they state the specific amendments and repeals of the bill reduce the capacities of many marginalized populations across Canada, and present a challenge to the political advocacy of charities.

For these reasons, the Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo is raising awareness by ‘blacking out’ its website on June 4th.

The chief concerns about Budget Bill C-38 are as follows:

• A challenge to the Free Speech and Advocacy for Charities
C-38 proposes amendments to the Income Tax Act’s rules around political activities of charities. Charities currently have a budget limitation towards political advocacy: no more than 10 percent of the charity budget can be put towards political advocacy. Budget Bill C-38 states charitable donations can be a political activity if the donation can “reasonably be considered” to be for political advocacy. C-38 also provides the Minister of National Revenue with the ability to withhold tax receipts from a charity or association if it exceeds the 10% limit on political advocacy. This could serve as a gateway to limiting charitable advocacy initiatives, and partnerships in addressing advocacy mandates.

• Fair Wage and Work Conditions
Budget Bill C-38’s repeal of the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act would allow contractors to reduce wages and circumnavigate restrictions on paying overtime. Fair wages and employment are essential to ensure worker’s rights and these measures will add to, not reduce, an increasing poverty situation in Canada.

• Eliminating the National Council of Welfare
Bill C-38 also eliminates the National Council of Welfare, an assembly that advises the Minister of National Health and Welfare on matters concerning poverty, the realities of low income Canadians, and related programs and policies. This Council provides Canadian agencies and community members with crucial poverty research, and advocates for the alleviation of poverty.

• Modifying Employment Insurance (EI)
Currently, EI claimants are required to demonstrate they are actively seeking "suitable work" in order to receive EI payments. C-38 removes definitions of “suitable work” from the Employment Insurance Act and provides the federal cabinet the power to establish new regulations about what constitutes suitable work and reasonable efforts to find work. C-38 provides no details about what the new criteria will be.

The website blackout was part of ‘Black Out Speak Out’—a national advocacy campaign speaking out against Budget Bill C-38.

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