The impact of COVID-19 on the nonprofit sector

Ottawa, August 18, 2020 – L’Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario (AFO) and the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) are proud to present the results of a joint survey to understand the impact of the pandemic on the nonprofit sector three months into the crisis.

During the month of June, 1131 nonprofit organizations across the province took part in our survey. With these responses, both provincial organizations now dispose of evidence to support their approaches at the federal and provincial levels.

This collaboration between the two organizations was a perfect fit, because the challenges related to the health crisis facing organizations, whether they are French-speaking, English-speaking or bilingual, are similar.

“The COVID-19 crisis threatens the dynamism of community life in the province. With the results of the various surveys that AFO has conducted since last March, we know that one in five nonprofit organizations is currently in a critical situation. Francophones in Ontario have taken 400 years to build a network of institutions and nonprofits. Losing them would represent a dangerous step towards assimilation and would inevitably lead to a reduction in the supply of services in French in the province. Governments would lose as well, with many nonprofits providing services on their behalf, ” said Carol Jolin, AFO President.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on Ontario’s nonprofits and charities and this survey clearly demonstrates that government supports have fallen short of what is needed to help nonprofits through the crisis into recovery. Although nonprofits remain optimistic and demonstrate incredible resilience to continue serving communities, the time is now for governments to act to prevent the closure of programs and services that communities across this province rely on,” said Cathy Taylor, executive director of ONN.

The two organizations are recommending a suite of solutions based on the results of the survey:

1. The Ontario government must create a nonprofit sector stabilization fund .
2. The Ontario government should accelerate the deployment of pandemic pay, and other supports, which took too long to reach front-line organizations.
3. The Government of Canada should ensure the federal emergency wage subsidy program is more flexible and responsive to nonprofit business models.
4. Both levels of government must invest in rural broadband to help both nonprofits and small businesses thrive in small communities across Ontario.
5. Both levels of government must create a nonprofit sector advisory table to inform planning for the economic recovery, with representation from all nonprofit sectors.

Highlights of the survey:

– The majority of nonprofits continue to operate, even when facing significant challenges and losses.
– In order to survive, many nonprofits have had to lay off staff or reduce employee hours, draw from their reserve funds, and have faced increased expenses.
– Many nonprofits believe they will have to close their doors by the end of the year if they do not receive assistance.