This is the time of year when various polls tell us what Canadians are intending to spend on gifts and celebrations this holiday. Scotiabank released one such poll last week. The survey conducted by Harris|Decima confirmed once again that Quebeckers plan to spend the least. Those in Alberta plan to spend the most on overall holiday spending ($1,388) and on gifts ($886), while those in Quebec plan to spend the least ($776 and $494).
This week a different kind of poll was released. While it doesn’t deal with gift giving for the holiday season, it’s still about giving – charitable giving. The Fraser Institute published the survey. And it led to this headline in the Toronto Sun: “Quebeckers are the least charitable, study finds”.
According to the Toronto Sun, in the Fraser Institute's 2010 Generosity Index, Quebec was dead last among provinces and even came behind Yukon when it came to charitable giving.
Quebeckers gave an average donation of $609 or 0.31% of their total income in 2008. By comparison, Manitobans gave the highest percentage of their income -- 0.94%, or an average donation of $1,620.
The article quotes Filip Palda, professor at École nationale d’administration publique in Gatineau, Québec. “We are generous but we are collectively generous, not individually generous.” Palda said in some ways it's not surprising that Quebec is on the bottom of the list. The province is one of the most heavily-taxed jurisdictions in Canada.
He’s not alone in making this argument and I’m sure there is some truth to it. However, we have looked at other indicators of Quebeckers’ orientation towards charitable giving over the years. One stands out. Quebeckers are also least likely to give their time to volunteer. And that has little to do with taxation.
Survey findings from Statistics Canada indicate that volunteer activity varies substantially among the provinces and territories. The volunteer rate was highest in Saskatchewan (59%), the Yukon (58%), Prince Edward Island (56%) and Nova Scotia (55%). It was lowest in Quebec (37%).
Source: Caring Canadians, Involved Canadians: Highlights from the 2007 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 71-542-XIE