Speech on National Philanthropy Day Act (S-203)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the National Philanthropy Day act. My riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam and Port Moody had benefited greatly from all forms of philanthropy. Lester M. Salaman, a leading author and professor on civil society says philanthropy is “the private giving of time or valuables…for public purposes”.

Canadians are generous with their time and money. The Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating reports that a majority of Canadians give. The reports says 23 million Canadians or 84% of the population over the age of 15 made a financial donation to a charity or non-profit in 2007. The common reasons for donating include a feeling of compassion for those in need, wanting to help a cause or wishing to assist the community.

The report also indicates that 12.5 million Canadians or 46% of the population donate their time through volunteering. In 2007 Canadians volunteered 2.1 billion hours, the equivalent of 1.1 million full-time jobs.

I will now highlight some of the good work of people and organizations in my riding. A personal hero of mine and an inspiration to many, Terry Fox, exemplified philanthropy. In 1980, after losing his leg to cancer, Terry, a Tri-Cities resident, began his cross-Canada marathon to raise awareness and money for cancer research. His legacy has resonated with millions of people around the world for over 30 years. Over 300,000 people took part in the first Terry Fox Run, which raised $3.5 million. Today the Terry Fox Run is the largest single day fundraiser for cancer research in the world. The Terry Fox Foundation has raised over $500 million to date.

The Coquitlam Foundation in my riding supports creative targeted philanthropy aimed at building a vibrant, sustainable and healthy community. I attended its gala fundraiser last October and was proud to give to an organization that has contributed so much to our community.

In 2009-10 the Coquitlam Foundation provided grants to numerous local organizations, including the Place des Arts Society and the ArtsConnect Tri-Cities Arts Council. The Coquitlam Foundation is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished through philanthropy.

For decades the rotary clubs have played a major role in raising money for community organizations and groups, such as Meals on Wheels and PoCoMo Youth Services Society. This past year, the rotary clubs of Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam Sunrise collected 11,740 pounds of food and $2,300 for SHARE community food bank. They also volunteered their time for Operation Red Nose.

In 1946 the New Westminster Lions Club was founded. Since then, it has donated over $2 million to the community. Some projects it has contributed to include the first renal dialysis for the Royal Columbian Hospital, a grand piano for Massey Theatre and scholarships to New Westminster Secondary School students.

Faith organizations have always been an important part of charity and raising funds. Our Lady of Fatima in Coquitlam held a dinner fundraiser to help those affected by the earthquake in Haiti. St. Barnabas Anglican Church in New Westminster offers several programs for those in need, including a community lunch every Thursday. Queens Avenue United Church and Holy Trinity Cathedral also participate in free weekly meal programs. The Khalsa Diwan Society organizes food drives to serve people in my riding, as well as the downtown east side of Vancouver.

It is always inspiring to see children and young adults raise money or items for important causes. We see it every year, especially at Christmas. This past year, Port Moody Secondary students donated over 2,000 pounds of food for the SHARE food bank in the Tri-Cities. Baker Drive Elementary in Coquitlam participates in a hamper drive every year.

Mundy Road Elementary, also in Coquitlam, held a Christmas craft fair, donating all funds to sponsor a family over the holidays. When Haiti experienced its devastating earthquake, the grade 6-7 students at École Glenbrook Middle School and Herbert Spencer Elementary School in New Westminster organized a fresh carnation and cookie fundraiser to help the people of Haiti.

The generosity of students helping those in need is truly inspiring.

People often associate philanthropy with people like Bill and Melinda Gates, who have donated millions to global health initiatives, or Bono, who raises money to help fight AIDS in Africa. These are very noble initiatives and should be applauded. However, philanthropy also occurs in every corner of our communities through donations of time and energy, which can often be the greatest gift one can give.

I would also like to recognize those who donate their time and energy working to help people in need. Individuals commit themselves to causes and organizations and provide such a valuable service. I would like to mention my friend and New Westminster resident, Judy Ross. This past year she was named the hardest working volunteer in the New Westminster NewsLeader's A-list for her work with the Fraser River Discovery Centre and the Royal City Farmers' Market.

I think of the volunteers with the Senior Services Society in New Westminster, those who willingly give of their time to grocery shop for seniors who cannot do for themselves any longer, volunteer drivers who assist the elderly with their doctors appointments, et cetera.

I have referenced SHARE Family & Community Services a number of times in my remarks. SHARE, a non-profit community based organization, assists thousands of families and individuals in the Tri-Cities. It operates a food bank, addiction services, English practice groups and family resource centres for new parents. While it receives some government funding, it relies heavily on the generosity of individuals and local businesses. Many of SHARE's programs depend on dedicated volunteers.

Fraserside Community Services in New Westminster plays a key role in building community. Through funding from provincial and federal governments and generous donations from companies, labour groups and individuals, Fraserside provides opportunities to many Royal City residents. It run first step, a program designed to increase the level of self-reliance to people with multiple barriers. It also operates one of the few emergency shelters geared toward families, as well as provide housing for those with developmental disabilities and mental health issues. It is always looking for volunteers who play a critical role in day to day operations at Fraserside.

There are countless volunteers who care for our environment, such as the Como, Coquitlam River and the Hoy/Scott Watershed Society, our waterways, our local creeks and rivers, and the flora and fauna they support. Volunteers run salmon enhancement programs and many community events that raise awareness of the importance of stewardship in our community.

Another hard-working volunteer organization is the Burke Mountain Naturalists, which promotes the awareness of natural beauty in the Tri-Cities and has been instrumental in the preservation of much of the green space we enjoy in the northeast sector. I know the work that those volunteers perform to keep our community healthy and sustainable.

There are so many organizations in my community performing great work. From the Gogos who raise money for African grandmothers and the children in their care, to organizations that care for our local youth, such as KidSport and the Children of the Street Society. There are people who volunteer their time with the Special Olympics. There are those who help the homeless, such as the Tri-City homelessness task group and the New West homelessness coalition. There are several organizations that promote local heritage, like the Port Moody Station Museum, the Coquitlam Heritage Society, the Mackin House Museum and the SPARC organization that is dedicated to the preservation of antique radios in Canada.

We have important community organizations that host large-scale community events like the Golden Spike Days Society, the Société francophone de Maillardville and the Hyack Festival Association.

Philanthropy comes in many forms and is such an important part of our Canadian fabric. Whether it is donating money or time, Canadians are generous and often want nothing more than a good feeling in return.

Today I spoke of philanthropy in my community and I know it occurs throughout our country. The bill is about recognizing the work, compassion and generosity of countless Canadians who make our communities a better place to live.

I support Bill S-203 and I hope all members of the House will as well.