Policy agenda - Ontario Nonprofit Network

Policy agenda

Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) advances bold and comprehensive public policy that reflects the needs and aspirations of Ontario’s nonprofit sector.

Policy agenda

From Thunder Bay to Barrie, Windsor to London, and across the GTA to Ottawa, the nonprofit sector plays an essential role in building thriving communities where people are connected, well-resourced, and effecting change for the public good. To continue doing so, we require an enabling public policy environment.

Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) advances bold and comprehensive public policy that reflects the needs and aspirations of Ontario’s nonprofit sector. Our policy agenda is aligned with our current strategic framework, and plots a course with nine focus areas consisting of various policy files that we advance through either legislative, regulatory, budget, and/or implementation initiatives. 

Vetting criteria for our policy agenda 

The issues that ONN primarily focuses on are a combination of:

  • Sector-wide: affecting more than one subsector (e.g. social services, arts, faith groups, and environmental organizations); 
  • Ontario-wide or have Ontario-wide repercussions: given the interconnectedness of public policy issues across jurisdictions, ONN may lead and/or support advocacy on issues impacting nonprofits in Ontario at the federal and/or municipal levels;
  • Impacting nonprofits of all sizes: dependent on a combination of budget, staff, volunteers, in rural or urban settings;
  • Impacting nonprofits and grassroots groups either led-by, focused on, and/or serving equity-deserving communities: Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities, women and gender-diverse people, 2SLGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, newcomers, and low-income individuals and families. 

Approach to ONN’s policy agenda

To surface and advance our policy agenda, ONN takes a network approach by building trusting, reciprocal relationships across our diverse sector. A network approach allows us to address complex issues collectively as a sector, rather than alone and in silos. Our policy agenda consists of issues brought forward directly by various members of our network, and through our state of the sector surveys, conferences and policy summits, regional meetings, informal convenings, and collaborative research and data work. 

Our approach to equity in our public policy and advocacy work is not ad-hoc nor siloed in a single part of the policy agenda, rather it is embedded across our focus areas. We recognize that each focus area disproportionately impacts nonprofits led-by, focused on, and/or serving equity-deserving communities. More specifically, ONN is continuously:

  • Highlighting the differential impacts of our public policy environment on nonprofits and the communities they serve that are often overlooked and underrepresented in policymaking; 
  • Centring the experiences of nonprofits and grassroots groups led-by, focused on, and/or serving equity-deserving communities;
  • Addressing power imbalances that exist across the sector, such as between rural and urban areas, established organizations and grassroots groups, settler-led organizations and B3, I4, and/or ethno-specific organizations, and established organizations and women and gender diverse organizations and disability justice organizations.
  • Elevating and supporting public policy and advocacy work of nonprofits and grassroots groups led-by and serving equity-deserving communities.

More information

Decent work systems

Decent work systems

ONN’s goal is to build a strong and resilient nonprofit workforce of tomorrow where workers, employers, and communities are supported equally. If nonprofit employers can offer decent work, they can hire and retain skilled people, and be better positioned to fulfill their community-based missions.

We advocate for:

  • Labour force initiatives to adapt to the future of work
  • Labour force strategy project

Volunteerism

ONN’s goal is to preserve and grow the spirit of volunteerism while closing the door on exploitation of unpaid labour. The vibrancy of communities and the sustainability of nonprofits depend on volunteers.

We advocate for:

  • Barrier-free police record checks

Volunteerism

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Nonprofit sustainability

Nonprofit sustainability

ONN’s goal is to catalyze transformation in the long-term sustainability of nonprofits. It's time for new sustainability models to help nonprofits and communities thrive.

We advocate for:

  • Funding reform
  • Access to social finance and social innovation

Social purpose real estate (SPRE)

Social purpose real estate (SPRE) refers to the availability, accessibility, and affordability of real estate for nonprofits, charities, and communities. ONN’s goal is to expand nonprofit access to real estate so public lands stay in public hands.

Social purpose real estate (SPRE)

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Data and privacy frameworks

Data and privacy frameworks

ONN’s goal is to ensure that the nonprofit sector’s data is ethically used and appropriately leveraged to support learning and data-driven decision-making.

We advocate for:

  • Privacy legislation grounded in equity

Regulatory environment

ONN’s goal is to ensure that the nonprofit sector’s regulatory frameworks support and empower the sector’s work. It’s time for a regulatory environment that considers the unique work and circumstance of nonprofits. 

We advocate for:

  • Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA)
  • Public benefit nonprofits
  • Shared platforms

Regulatory environment

Community wealth building

Community wealth building

Through community wealth building, ONN’s goal is to ignite nonprofits as major players in growing an equitable, inclusive, and caring economy to address social and environmental challenges. As a sector, nonprofits have a responsibility to create a more equitable, inclusive, and caring economy that also centers anti-racism and reconciliation.

We advocate for:

  • Social procurement

Anti-privatization of publicly-funded services

The purpose, governance, and ownership structure of nonprofits makes the sector uniquely positioned to deliver publicly-funded services. ONN’s goal is for public-funded service to remain and grow in the nonprofit and public sectors.

We advocate for:

  • Profit free care services

Anti-privatization of publicly-funded services

Active democracy

Active democracy

In the face of growing divides, nonprofits can bring communities together ONN’s goal is for nonprofits to activate a thriving democracy.

We advocate for:

  • Low-barrier nonprofit advocacy
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