Idea worth copying in cities across the province

Toronto City Council has adopted a new policy framework, called For Public Benefit, to celebrate and enhance the city’s relationship with public benefit nonprofits. The framework was the result of a great collaboration between the city and nonprofits. Get the inside scoop in this month’s blog, Relationship for Public Benefit 

Send us your photos

Estelle, our communications manager, would like some photographs from our members that she can use on our website. She will, of course, give credit to the photographer and the sharing organization.  

TAKE ACTION: Please contact Estelle if you have a photograph you would be willing to share that shows:

  • Employees undertaking ‘decent work’ 
  • People actively involved in work that benefits the public -- for undertaking advocacy, restoring a community building or a watershed, putting on an arts exhibit or running a community sports league
  • People actively involved in a social enterprise -- running a daycare or thrift store or, operating housing for example 

From the ONN library

This month we’re profiling our leadership competencies report, published last summer, which is still of great relevance. Give it a read when you have some time. You can find this publication, and more, online:

ONN Connectors

ONN Connectors are organizations, corporations and individuals that believe in building a strong and resilient nonprofit sector in Ontario.


The Counselling Foundation of Canada is a private foundation which champions learning and career development to help Canadians nurture the gifts and talents within themselves. Our vision is a day when all Canadians are living purposeful and productive lives, helping to build a better, more prosperous society.

The Mastercard Foundation seeks a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper.

All people, no matter their starting point in life, should have an equal chance to succeed. We believe that with access to education, financial services, and skills training, people can have that chance.

Our focus is helping economically disadvantaged young people in Africa find opportunities to move themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty to a better life.

Convened a gathering of provincial associations 

Last month we met with dozens of representatives of Ontario provincial associations. We convened this first-ever gathering because we know that when we work together, we’re all more effective. We spoke about pressing issues, discussed what ONN’s working on, and identified some areas where we can work together. We look forward to future opportunities to work together.

  • TAKE ACTION: If you are a provincial association or provincial umbrella organization in Ontario, let us know so we include you in future events.

Support with election advocacy

We published an election advocacy toolkit last month and have been hearing from organizations already who are finding it helpful. Please let us know how you will use it.  

Next week’s webinar should prove to be really useful as well to help you and your organization get more comfortable in shaping public policy - during an election period or not. We encourage you to attend.

  • Speakers: Karim Bardeesy, a public service leader who has worked at the intersection of public policy, politics, journalism and academia for the last 15 years; Julia Drydyk, the managing director at Public Interest Strategy & Communications.
  • Wednesday, March 7, 12-1pm
  • Free for ONN members; $30 for others
  • TAKE ACTION: Register today

Second Bill 148 webinar proves popular

If you weren’t able to attend our recent Bill 148 webinar on February 22, you may wish to watch the recording to understand the new legislation affecting nonprofit employers. Or read our FAQs. Registration for a final Bill 148 webinar will open soon.

Nonprofit policy advocacy under potential scrutiny with new Elections Ontario “third-party advertising” rules

The Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act, 2016 (Bill 2, now in effect) updated the rules on third-party spending in Ontario elections. As we noted in our Election Toolkit, these new rules bring nonprofit issue-based advocacy under scrutiny. Any organization that spends over $500 on what the Act defines as “advertising” must register as a “third-party advertiser” with the Chief Electoral Officer, must track related expenses and revenues separately, and risk paying fines if they do this incorrectly. The bill includes in its definition of “advertising” not only partisan but also issue-based nonpartisan advocacy on which a candidate or party takes a position. The scope of political advertising not only includes billboards and newspaper ads, but also “other media” such as flyers, buttons, and e-newsletters. Any communication from a nonprofit to an audience that goes beyond an organization’s staff and membership list that has a cost falls under this definition. This would apply to many issues, including child care, affordable housing, arts and recreation funding, and climate change — issues candidates routinely take a position on.

This broad definition of “advertising” has the potential to create unintended consequences for nonprofits that participate in democratic debate during election campaigns. The rules apply to the election period itself, and the six-month period before general election periods. We encourage nonprofits to engage in advocacy on issues that matter to them, and also to check with Elections Ontario for clarification if they are unsure of how the rules apply to their work.

ONN voiced our concerns about these new rules in 2016 when they were under consideration by the Standing Committee on General Government. It is our position that public benefit nonprofits’ engagement in non-partisan, issue-based advocacy should not be regulated as this creates yet another advocacy chill in the sector.

  • TAKE ACTION: If you have concerns about how these new rules are being interpreted by Elections Ontario, or would like to be involved in advocacy work on this issue, please contact Liz Sutherland at

Continued delays on Police Record Checks legislation implementation

Following an update from staff at the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, ONN is concerned that the Police Record Checks Reform Act, 2015, may not be proclaimed in force before the June election. Despite a 2016 mandate letter commitment and a letter to ONN from Minister Marie-France Lalonde last August indicating that “proclamation of the legislation remains a government priority,” nonprofits continue to wait to see proclamation, as well as draft regulations under the Act that would address the pressing issue of fees and timelines for processing police record checks, particularly for volunteers.

CPA Canada’s Not-for-Profit Certificate Program

CPA Canada has developed a program to help empower not-for-profit professionals. The new Not-for-Profit Certificate Program, will help enhance your technical skills as a not-for-profit board member or accountant. 

New infographic: Five ways Bill 154 makes life easier for nonprofits

Regular readers know that the Ontario Corporations Act (OCA) remains our sector’s governing legislation until the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act is proclaimed (scheduled for Jan. 1, 2020). Community Legal Education Ontario has produced a new infographic on the Bill 154 amendments to the OCA that make life easier for our sector in the meantime.

Reminder: The ONCA proclamation is still years away. The enabling legislation (Bill 154) has passed so the Ontario Government can move forward to proclaim ONCA, the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act. But do not rush to change your bylaws or articles of incorporation. The Act won't be proclaimed for at least two years. Then, you have a further three years to bring your legal documents into compliance. There is plenty of time to get compliant – and we are still waiting for the regulations which may include some important details.

  • TAKE ACTION: Provide feedback: Is CLEO’s ONCA website meeting your needs? CLEO seeks a few people to take 30 minutes to review the “Get Ready for ONCA” website and provide feedback. If you're interested, please email Benjamin:

Rural Ontario Institute CEO appointed to Senate of Canada

Congratulations to Rob Black, CEO of the Rural Ontario Institute, former ONN policy committee member, and all-around sector champion, who has been appointed to the Senate of Canada. 

Beneficial change to arts grants

The rules in the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) have changed. Arts grants are now exempt as income and assets in both ODSP and OW. This means that artists who are on OW or ODSP and receive an arts grant will no longer have the money deducted from their monthly benefits, and will not have to risk becoming ineligible for continuing support from these programs. 

ONN News is a round-up of recent activities affecting the network. We send this newsletter out monthly, on the last Wednesday of the month.


Ontario Nonprofit Network | 2 St. Clair Avenue East, Suite 300 | Toronto, ON, M4T 2T5 | (416) 642-5786

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