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Transcript of Video on Volunteer Labour

Political entities often rely on the help of volunteers. This module answers fundamental questions about volunteer labour.

What is volunteer labour?

It is any service provided free of charge outside a person's working hours. If a person works on call or variable hours, they can volunteer as long as their employer didn't tell them to do so while getting standby or other pay.

Who is eligible to volunteer?

Anyone can volunteer, even if they're not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. But if a person is self-employed, they can't volunteer the same service they normally charge for. So if Alex, a self-employed graphic designer, offers to design a poster for a political party, he can't volunteer this service. He either needs to be paid or make a non-monetary contribution equal to the amount he normally charges for poster design. Alex can volunteer any other service, though. For example, he can canvass for the party.

So who is an employee and who is self-employed?

People who receive a salary or wages, have payroll deductions and get a T4 at tax time are employees. Other workers, like sole proprietors and members of partnerships, are self-employed. Alex, our graphic designer, is self-employed because he is a sole proprietor.

Can a political entity pay volunteers for part of their work?

Yes, but there must be an agreement in place before the work is done. The paid work is not volunteer labour, and the political entity is responsible for the expenses resulting from the agreement. The paid work is also an election expense if done for a party or candidate in an election.

Political entities can hold a thank-you party and give volunteers nominal gifts up to a total value of $200. Let's see an example. A candidate throws a party for volunteers on election night. On top of food and entertainment, volunteers get a $200 gift card thanking them for their help. Note that these costs are not election expenses and don't count toward a party's or candidate's spending limit.

To learn more, please take a look at our other modules and resources.

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