Lobbying has never been a core function of WE Charity and any federal lobbying has involved only a small fraction of staff time. In fact, WE Charity had only one employee handling both “Government and Stakeholder Relations,” at all levels. As the title suggests, this role involved engaging both “stakeholders”, including individual donors and foundations, and “government”, including municipal, provincial and federal governments.
WE Charity last fiscal year received approximately 1% of its operating budget from the federal government. This miniscule share indicates that any engagement with the federal government was quite limited in comparison to the overall scope and scale of its domestic and international programs.
Nevertheless, in response to the government’s April 19th request to assist with delivering the Canada Student Service Grant, WE Charity moved quickly to design a program from scratch. The federal concept of lobbying is not limited to advocating for something from government, but may also include engaging in conversation when government asks for something from you.
Dozens of employees contributed to the initiative. Their diverse functions included graphic design of public materials, coding for website interface, eligibility criteria for youth, stakeholder engagement with other not-for-profit organizations, and delivery options about how to reach the most at-risk youth. Designing the program was a monumental effort during an incredibly compressed time period.
Some of these employees interacted with government via written or phone conversations: answering questions, revising scenarios at Ottawa’s request, and addressing new considerations raised by departmental officials.
It was – and is – an important moment in our nation’s COVID-19 response. To ensure that our role in that collaboration is transparently documented, and to remain accountable, we have voluntarily filed a federal lobbyist registration and lobbying reports. The registration is publicly available here .
Some things to keep in mind when reviewing our registration:
Our lobbyist registration must be kept in perspective. On April 19th the Government of Canada contacted WE Charity asking for assistance to launch a national youth service program. This resulted in an unprecedented volume of assistance to departmental officials, in a short time period, responsive to a unique government request. Those named on the registration are not professional lobbyists, just conscientious employees doing their job.