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Manitobans blessed with a giving spirit

Most generous province -- again

Salvation Army volunteer Phil Guliov collects donations from shoppers at Polo Park Thursday.

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Salvation Army volunteer Phil Guliov collects donations from shoppers at Polo Park Thursday. (PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

Manitobans are as generous as Ebenezer Scrooge the morning after the three spirits have visited.

Ordering an enormous goose for the Cratchits would just be the start for Manitobans, who give, and give, and give some more.

This time, give yourself a pat on the back -- for the 14th consecutive year, the Fraser Institute's generosity index has named Manitoba the most generous province or territory in the country.

Based on 2010 tax returns, the conservative think-tank has declared us Canada's most generous, having led all Canadians in the percentage of tax filers donating to charity and the percentage of aggregate income donated to charity.

Winnipeg resident Shirley Wyatt teaches her family the value of giving to charity. "My children and grandchildren have all been brought up to put money in the kettles at Christmas," said Wyatt. "Even if it's just a loonie or a toonie, it's important to help people less fortunate."

Wyatt, whose family also contributed to the Siloam Mission this holiday season, said the spirit of giving transcends faith or religion.

"It's about doing the right thing for fellow man," she said.

Pastor Bruce Martin of Calvary Temple Church said, "When it comes to giving to strangers, that's a learned behaviour. There's a self-centredness in deprived humanity that says 'I'll take care of myself and my family, but I'm not taking care of you.'

"I think Manitobans have learned to be content to not be the wealthiest and they're in it for the long haul," said Martin, who pointed out anonymous giving in his own church has increased by about $10,000 this year.

Kate Brenner, director of development at Winnipeg Harvest, said she's not surprised Manitoba has retained its title as the country's most charitable province.

"Manitobans are not only friendly, but incredibly philanthropic in giving of their time and dollars," she said. "People here relate to the issues and they genuinely care."

Brenner said Manitobans are on pace to contribute more than $2 million and 12 million pounds of food to Winnipeg Harvest this year -- equivalent to 64,000 meals per month.

"Year after year, we depend on the kindness and generosity of Manitobans to keep us open and the trucks rolling and the people fed. The support of our volunteers and the number of people wanting to help is overwhelming," Brenner said.

It's a sentiment Doug Finkbeiner, 2012 campaign chairman of the United Way of Winnipeg, echoed.

"Folks here have a wonderful sense of community," he said. "Those of us in later generations picked up that generous attitude from our parents and our neighbours."

But our generosity pales in comparison to that of Americans.

"When it comes to donations to registered charities, Canadians may be surprised to find that they are much less generous than Americans," said Charles Lammam, the report's co-author. "Had Canadians donated to registered charities at the same rate as Americans, Canada's charities would have received an additional $9.2 billion in private support in 2010."

ryan.bowman@freepress.mb.ca

 

 

It's better to give:

THE Fraser Institute, a conservative think-tank, has declared Manitobans to be Canada's most generous people. We're first nationally in both the percentage of tax filers to give to charity in the 2010 tax year, and in terms of the percentage of aggregate income donated to charity. We were third in average donation:

 

Province % of tax filers who % of aggregateAverage donation donated to charityincome donatein dollars

 

1. Manitoba 26.20.92$1,697

2. Prince Edward Island 25.2 0.83 $1,339

3. Saskatchewan 25.2 0.73 $1,519

4. Ontario 24.5 0.75 $1,645

5. Alberta 24.2 0.81 $2,289

6. Nova Scotia 22.6 0.55 $1,129

7. British Columbia 22.0 0.80 $1,832

8. Quebec 21.9 0.31 $641

9. New Brunswick 21.3 0.59 $1,190

10. Nfld./Labrador 21.1 0.49 $990

11. Yukon 20.6 0.33 $1,160

12. Northwest Territories 16.8 0.27 $1,315

13. Nunavut 9.7 0.23 $1,600

 

-- sources: Fraser Institute calculations based on data from the Canada Revenue Agency and Statistics Canada

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