We have all experienced and benefitted from, in one way or another, the amazing and transformative work of Alberta’s 26,200 non-profit organizations. Their support to our communities during the last eighteen months has been nothing short of exemplary as we moved from crisis to recovery during the pandemic.
The non-profit sector is an economic driver – it employs 280,000 Albertans and accounts for $5.5 billion in GDP annually. Non-profits are playing a key role in Alberta’s recovery, and they are always in the best position to respond to pressing community needs. However, government regulations intended for business can prevent non-profits from addressing immediate needs in the community. These regulations often have exemptions for non-profits and charitable groups because of the unique nature of their work. For example, there are exemptions to limit liability for civil society organizations that accept donated food.
Many non-profits have told us it is too difficult and time consuming to navigate the many exemptions that exist across government. Others don’t know what exemptions actually exist.
Today, I’m thrilled to tell non-profits that we now have a Freedom to Care website to help them find information about existing exemptions to regulation. I’m excited about this fantastic resource. Having exemption information all in one place will make it easier to non-profits to focus on delivering important programs and services that strengthen our communities.
The website has a searchable exemption inventory. A search will bring up a brief summary about an exemption, how to request it and the department contact information. You can also use the website’s fillable form to apply for a new one-time common-sense exemption.
Alberta’s 1.9 million volunteers are one of the most valuable resources for building and strengthening our communities. The website also provides information and resources to support the sector’s understanding and implementation of the volunteer liability protections under the Freedom to Care Act. This includes resources for best practices in volunteer management and a volunteer checklist.
This new resource supports the implementation of the Freedom to Care Act, which is now in force. In addition to providing volunteers with liability protections, the Act:
- Allows cabinet (through Order in Council) to grant one-time, short-term exemptions for non-profits from government regulations intended for business, where an exemption does not already exist; and
- Requires the Minister of Culture to report annually to cabinet on exemption requests that cannot be addressed through existing processes or legislation.
Please share the Freedom to Care website with your contacts and colleagues in the non-profit and voluntary sector.
Ron Orr served as Minister of Culture from July 8, 2021 to October 24, 2022.