Canada has a feminist Prime Minister, a gender-balanced cabinet, and a promise from said PM to stand up for feminism and diversity against the rising tide of intolerance and repression to the south.
So people would probably be surprised to learn that religious agencies whose sole purpose is to thwart the exercise of Canadians' right to reproductive choice get both direct and indirect government subsidies, yes?
Well, it's true. And the numbers are pretty shocking.
Following up on its study of the largely fraudulent online claims of Crisis Pregnancy Centres (CPCs) (or as they are more correctly called, Fake Clinics), Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) last week released a new report examining the online tax filings of 112 such operations that, incredibly, have been allowed charitable status by the federal government.
(We'll get to the abomination of such status in a minute.)
ARCC volunteers pored through tax filings for the period 2011 to 2015.
The bottom line: fake clinics are bilking you and me of millions of dollars.
MATH WARNING: Ciphering is about to occur. If this is a problem skip down to below ************.
First, the direct funding. Over five years, these operations received $3.5 million in cash from various levels of government -- over half a million from the federal level, mostly through their enthusiastic embrace of the Canada Summer Jobs program. Of the remainder, $2.6 million came from the provinces, the rest from municipalities and regions. The grants come from various programs, not easily tracked down, and as we will see, not always properly reported.
Next, the indirect funding. Canadian taxpayers subsidize the anti-human rights work of fake clinics in two ways, both of them operational purely because of their charitable status.
As registered charities, fake clinics pay no income taxes. Over the period studied, fake clinics had a combined revenue of $65.8 million, totally exempt from taxes.
So, that's lost tax money that has to be made up by someone. And you know it's not the oil companies.
The other way allows donors to shield income from taxes through tax receipts. As registered charities, fake clinics are allowed to issue receipts that donors use to exempt some income from tax. If you've ever done your own taxes, you know that there are two levels of exemptions. For donations under $200, the rate is 15%; everything over $200 is discounted by a generous 29%.
Over 2011-15 fake clinics issued nearly $38.2 million in such receipts. At the minimum rate of 15%, this represents a drain on federal tax coffers of at least $5.7 million, with provinces facing similar losses. In Ontario, the rates are 5.05% and 11.16%.
Let's pretend for a moment that all the money was donated in Ontario. At minimum, that would represent another $2 million.
At the maximum rate, these tax receipts represent a potential loss of $11 million, again with cash-strapped provinces losing too.
So, while it's impossible to say what proportion of donations were discounted at which rate, it is safe to say that the amount lost at the federal level alone is somewhere between $5.7 and $11 million. And at least another $2 million at the provincial and territorial level.
And there's another wrinkle. Through the magnificent generosity of the registered charity program, charities can give money to each other. Fake clinics received a further $11.8 million from other registered charities which had issued their own tax receipts.
There's another $1.8 lost to federal income tax, with proportional loses to the provinces.
Direct government funding: $3.5 million
Money sucked out of federal tax coffers: At least $7.5 million and as much as nearly $13 million.
Money sucked out of provincial tax coffers: At least $2 million.
The bottomer-bottom line: That lost money is made up by you and me. WE are actively subsidizing these fake clinics.
Is that a lot of money?
I think one red cent is a lot of money for organizations that use misinformation and deceit to further their goal of recriminalizing abortion and contraception.
But in a country where $3.3 billion a year in tax money for the oil industry raises nary a hair yet $16 for a glass of orange juice causes mass hysteria, who the hell knows?
One more point before I leave the ARCC study. Volunteers found many anomalies in the filings. For example, nearly 60% of groups receiving government money -- 34 fake clinics -- misreported that funding. ARCC has asked CRA to initiate reviews of these irregularities.
For me the bigger question is -- as I've asked many, many times -- WHY THE HELL DO THESE GANGS HAVE CHARITABLE STATUS IN THE FIRST FUCKING PLACE?
Most people suppose that because the Government has accredited a group as a "registered charity" that group must be on the up-and-up, with noble purpose, working for the greater good of the whole community.
As we pointed out recently, generous people like the One Hundred Who Care Movement include "charitable status" among their required criteria, on the blithe assumption that no fraudsters would make it past the vigilance of the revenuers.
CALL TO ACTION
We have a feminist government. After the cabinet shuffle, we have three women heading ministries that could do something about this.
Diane Lebouthillier is the Minister of National Revenue in charge of CRA and its awesome power to award or strip groups of charitable status as well as to examine the books of said groups. Diane.Lebouthillier@parl.gc.ca @DiLebouthillier
Patty Hajdu is the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, in charge of the Canada Summer Jobs program, so successfully milked by fake clinics. Patty.Hajdu@parl.gc.ca @PattyHajdu
Maryam Monsef is the new Minister of Status of Women. In a feminist *cough* government, one might think the Status of Women minister might have something to say about anti-choice outfits being subsidized by taxpayers. (And maybe regain some credibility.) Maryam.Monsef@parl.gc.ca @MaryamMonsef
I sent some tweets the other day.
I forgot to use hashtags. These would be good: #ExposeFakeClinics #ExposeCPCs
For those who like to see for themselves and those who like to play with spreadsheets, we got you covered. All that and more -- like the letter sent to CRA -- here.
ARGGH: Forgot to credit the indefatigable and indomitable Kathy Dawson for heroic work. You can say thanks to her on twitter @blueskies366.