Message from the Executive Director on Development and Peace – Caritas Canada’s plans in response to COVID-19

May 27, 2020

Dear supporter,

I am writing to you to share with you our plans in response to the impacts of COVID-19 on Development and Peace – Caritas Canada.

More than ever, Development and Peace needs you so it can continue its mission, inspired by the preferential option for the poor, which we put into practice through our projects in the Global South and our education work here in Canada to raise awareness on social justice issues.

More than ever, ecological justice, access to healthcare, humanitarian aid and respect for human rights are vital and need your support and gestures of solidarity.

More than ever, Development and Peace needs you so that it can continue its work, which began more than 50 years ago.

 

Development and Peace's financial situation has been hit hard by COVID-19

Like many other organizations and entities in Canada and around the world, Development and Peace has been deeply impacted by COVID-19. The inability to hold our 2020 Share Lent collection in parishes across Canada has placed the organization in a vulnerable financial situation. We estimate a shortfall of $5M that would have been collected on the 5th Sunday of Lent and which represents almost 40% of our annual public donations. As such, we face the double challenge of maintaining our financial viability while fulfilling our mission.

 

The impact of COVID-19 on our programming

Since Development and Peace works exclusively with local partners in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East (without any Canadian employees or volunteers in the field), our international development programming has not been interrupted by the crisis and will not be affected by the decision to reduce our staff during the summer.

Development and Peace will be able to meet all financial commitments for projects already underway. However, we have decided to slow the addition of any new projects to our regular programming from April 1 to August 31, 2020, due to the abovementioned shortfall. 

Fortunately, COVID-19 will not have a direct impact on the progress of three projects currently underway with support from Global Affairs Canada (GAC) through its International Humanitarian Aid (IHA) funding, nor our projects funded by other donors, such as the Government of Quebec.

 

Solutions to strengthen solidarity

Indeed, to face this financial crisis, the organization and its staff have shown initiative and solidarity by proposing and putting in place effective solutions. These include no-cost extensions to certain projects and project flexibility so that partners can adapt activities to meet urgent needs created by COVID-19. We also contributed to the dissemination of information to partners regarding COVID-19 (information on prevention, guidelines, advice) by sharing consolidated information from the Caritas network on a virtual platform created for this purpose. 

We have also made available to our partners a “COVID-19 D&P Solidarity Fund” of $600,000 to support a dozen initiatives in response to COVID-19 (between June and December 2020). You can learn more about the pandemic’s impact on the communities we work with and how our partners are responding on our COVID-19 news page.

 

In addition, we adapted our programming in Canada (education and public awareness) by organizing several virtual activities.

In order to reduce the anticipated deficit for our financial year, which ends August 31, 2020, we have put in place several measures:

  • A virtual Share Lent campaign, special mailings and e-appeals were organized to raise funds in the absence of the traditional annual Lenten campaign.
  • A reduction in operating expenses to a minimum. For example, with all travel cancelled due to COVID-19, savings are being made in terms of travel expenses.
  • A temporary layoff of staff for a period of two months between now and August 31, 2020.
 

Together with the staff and the National Council, we made this decision in a responsible and planned manner. Thanks to government aid programs and financial compensation from Development and Peace, staff will receive almost 80% of their regular salary during this two-month period. A schedule has been developed to ensure follow-up on all ongoing projects, including those stemming from agreements signed with GAC. As the summer period is always quieter, we do not envision any additional delays for responses to partners or funders.

The directors of each department will also remain available during this period. Management and staff will stagger their working hours to guarantee the maintenance of essential services. Concretely, this means that a small number of staff and management will always be available throughout the summer, and each director will contribute either financially or with time to the solidarity action taken by staff.

We are monitoring the various assistance measures offered by the Canadian government to support organizations during this crisis. Unfortunately, our organization did not qualify for the 75% wage subsidy for the month of March. Normally, most of the Lenten collections from the parishes and dioceses are recorded towards the end of the financial year (July and August) and we will only be able to demonstrate our real losses at that time. However, we are continuing to analyze our admissibility on a month-by-month basis.

The directors, the treasurer, the National Council and the employees of Development and Peace are all committed to ensuring the sustainability of the organization and respecting our commitments to our funders and partners, despite the exceptional situation we are currently experiencing.

Whether you are already a donor or thinking of becoming one, or whether you are concerned about seeing us continue our work of helping the poorest, be assured that Development and Peace – Caritas Canada will continue to do its work and will remain strong thanks to you, our members and our donors.

Peace and blessings,

 

Serge Langlois
Executive Director