Not-for-profit organizations across the country are at the forefront of helping communities survive and thrive. Nonprofit workers have pledged to serve their communities and have found innovative ways to do so throughout the pandemic. But we are at a turning point. If governments do not act to support this workforce now, the most vulnerable in our communities will be affected. Unlike many other sectors, an HR crisis in the not-for-profit sector has a direct impact on essential services and affects Canadians in their daily lives.

The nonprofit sector faces skyrocketing demand for services, coupled with major declines in fundraising and the end of government pandemic support. Our staff are exhausted and leaving the sector in droves. Women are disproportionately impacted by both the increased demand and the struggle to keep the doors open, as they make up 77% of the nonprofit workforce, as well as a disproportionate number of caregivers for the most vulnerable in our communities.

A not-for-profit crisis means Canadians are losing access to essential services.

Already, child care centers are unable to open spaces and are reducing their hours of operation as they struggle to hire and retain staff to care for our little ones. Family counseling agencies cannot respond to the exponential calls from struggling families, and clients of several programs drop out when they hear of waiting lists longer than six months. In many places, programs like meals on wheels and adult day programs have long waiting lists and no staff to manage them. Drop-in programs for people experiencing homelessness are seeing unprecedented demand, but with rising rents and food prices, they may have to ditch hot meal programs.

All of this has a ripple effect throughout the community, as the loss of services means an increased burden on caregivers, as well as additional pressures on other already overstretched institutions that everyone relies on, such as hospitals.

According to recent results from the Canadian Survey of Business Conditions, 32% of employers in the not-for-profit sector believe that retaining qualified staff will be an obstacle in the next three months, while 36% are concerned about recruitment. of qualified personnel.

It is a market of job seekers, but the voluntary sector starts from a considerable disadvantage in filling vacancies and remaining competitive in retaining staff. Average salaries in community non-profit organizations are already 35% lower than the economy-wide average in Canada. Additionally, tight operating budgets and inflexible funding agreements mean that many organizations are significantly limited in their ability to raise salaries.

This is a national crisis that affects all regions of the country and requires the attention of all levels of government.

Without nonprofit workers, there will be huge gaps in community supports – and governments will need to provide services to many people who rely on nonprofit supports and programs daily. .

There are solutions. Tackling working conditions and the severe labor shortage will require a multifactorial approach. This means investing in nonprofit workforce strategies, modernizing outdated funding arrangements so organizations have flexible operating budgets to meet increased demand and retain talented workers, and public policies that enable nonprofit organizations to offer competitive salaries and benefits to priority individuals. services.

Nonprofit organizations and their workers collaborate with their peers and governments by focusing on their mission and the people they serve. With 170,000 organizations and 2.5 million workers in Canada, the not-for-profit sector is an economic engine that contributes $189 billion annually. Supporting nonprofit workers is an essential part of rebuilding local economies and preventing the downstream costs of systemic issues facing communities.

With the cost of living rising alarmingly and a country still grappling with the effects of the pandemic, Canada’s nonprofits and charities will be in even greater demand. We cannot do the job without a strong workforce of skilled nonprofit workers.

In a year marked by numerous provincial and municipal elections, it is time for political parties and candidates to focus their efforts and political commitments where communities need them most.