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CED: An Overview Of The Law — Charitable Purposes — Other Purposes Beneficial to the Community

Other Purposes Beneficial to the Community


Prepared by Marni M. K. Whitaker, B.A., LL.B., of the Ontario Bar

Charities — Part II.4 — Charitable Purposes — Other Purposes Beneficial to the Community

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II.4 — Other Purposes Beneficial to the Community


§52 The fourth heading is that of purposes beneficial to the community not falling under any of the preceding heads. This includes an intention to benefit "crippled children". The nature of the problems of disabled children makes the word "home" synonymous with the word "hospital" in such cases. A bequest to a conservation group is charitable, since this is a purpose beneficial to the community, and so is a bequest to a cemetery. A bequest to a humane society for animals is charitable, as is benefits the community at large. The promotion of the arts is a purpose which benefits the public at large, and is charitable, as is a gift to promote the training of singers. Anything that improves the efficiency of the armed forces is charitable. The promotion of the happiness and enjoyment of the members of the community is a charitable purpose.

§53 The court has applied a fund in the hands of a citizens' league on account of the expropriation of a fire hall "to support any hospital or religious institution serving the area formerly served by the firefighting establishment supported by the trust, to provide scholarships benefiting needy and deserving young men and women residing in the area formerly served by the said establishment, and to provide help and relief for needy persons residing or formerly residing in the area formerly served by the said establishment".

§54 A society providing services for immigrant women alleging that they are a disadvantaged group in society will be denied registered charitable status where the society's purposes and activities are indefinite and vague. Providing a benefit to those in a position to invoke Charter rights is not, per se, a purpose beneficial to the community in a way that the law regards as charitable.

§55 A two-part test determines whether a purpose falls within the fourth category derived from the preamble to the Statute of Charitable Uses, other purposes beneficial to the community. First, it must fall within the "spirit and intendment" of the preamble. Second, on the record before it and in the exercise of its equitable jurisdiction in matters of charity, the court must determine that the purpose will operate for the public benefit.

§56 The "public benefit" head requires a society to show how its purposes are beneficial in a way the law regards as charitable. To this end, the court is required to consider the trend of decisions establishing certain objects as charitable, examine certain accepted anomalies and determine whether, consistent with the objects declared, the income and property is applied for purposes falling outside the scope of charity.

§57 The fourth class of charitable purposes under the preamble expressly includes trusts for the provision of public works such as repairing highways or building bridges, matters so essential to the public that public authorities took over their maintenance. A freenet organization which freely provides public access to the information superhighway, including the internet, promotes access to information and provides a medium of communication. It fulfills a purpose analogous to those specified as charitable in the preamble. The free exchange of information is a public good and is essential to democracy. The personal purposes for which the association's facility may be used do not disqualify it because, as with a public highway, the nature of the traffic does not dilute the public good the facility provides.

§58 Hospitals are included in the accepted definition of charitable institutions and this is so although they may be funded from public funds and notwithstanding that they may charge a fee. It makes no difference that the hospital has no express legal authorization, by its charter or otherwise, to carry on hospital work or any of the charitable work which in fact it does. In doing so, the hospital is not acting illegally, but is rather doing something which is favoured by public policy.

§59 A gift towards research for the alleviation of tuberculosis has been held to be a valid charitable bequest. So too has a devise toward the purchase of radium "for that section of humanity which now suffers from the want of it".

§60 Not all trusts for the benefit of the public are charitable. A community swimming pool is not beneficial in a way in which the law regards as charitable.

§61 A trust for the benefit of animals is considered an acceptable trust for charitable purposes.

§62 A trust to an association which publishes a newspaper distributing news and information on Native Indian cultural and political affairs exists to instill a degree of pride of ancestry, to deepen an appreciation of Indian culture and language and to thereby promote a measure of cohesion among Native peoples and therefore has a valid charitable purpose. But a magazine which addresses the needs and concerns of the poor as a disadvantaged group is not fulfilling a charitable purpose beneficial to the community if it also canvasses topics not of direct relevance to the poor. It lacks specificity of purpose.

§63 Property devised to the navy "as a rest for navy personnel" is not within the ambit of the preamble to the Statute of Charitable Uses as "rest" provides only comfort.

§64 A trust for a home for the elderly is a charitable purpose, even where poverty is not an element.

§65 A home for aged women is charitable. A "home for children of such Canadian soldiers as fell in the recent war or died as a result of war service" is charitable.

§66 A fund set aside by an organization as its contribution towards a pension fund for its employees but not used for the purpose owing to the failure to organize the fund, is not impressed with a charitable trust in favour of the employees. The use of the word "pension" is quite insufficient in itself to indicate a charitable intention.

§67 A charitable trust to be carried out in a foreign country need not be for the benefit of Canada.

§68 A testamentary gift to "the German people through the German consul in Toronto" constitutes a charitable bequest to be applied according to a scheme to be propounded by the Federal Republic of Germany.

§69 In Ontario at least, the promotion of amateur athletic sport is a valid charitable purpose.

§70 A gift to maintain a cemetery owned or provided by municipal authorities and not connected with any church or religious denomination is a valid charitable gift.

§71 A will directed the estate trustees to use the residue "for such purpose or purposes as they may deem to be advisable and appropriate, bearing in mind my family's connection with and involvement in the general community and organizations" of the geographic area in which he had lived. The reference to 'community' implied a charitable purpose under fourth head, namely other purposes beneficial to the community.

§72 Where land was purchased by a city subject to covenants that the land was to be held for "municipal purposes" and "not for commercial or industrial purposes", the language connotes a purpose that is beneficial to the community just as a trust with respect to park land might be so interpreted and accordingly, the land was subject to a charitable trust.
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