News

Volunteering In Canada Worth More Than $50-Billion

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Image: Emma Taylor
“A French-speaking Canadian volunteer helps two Haitian students with their English.” – Wikimedia Commons. Image: Emma Taylor

In Canada, more than 13.3 million people volunteer. That means that on their own time, and without being paid, they work on a project to help others in some way.

This week (April 21 to 27) is National Volunteer Week in Canada, according to an organization called Volunteer Canada.

In a recent report, two economists* have put a dollar figure on all of that volunteering.

Volunteering creates $50-billion in economic value every year for Canadians, Craig Alexander and Sonya Gulati, economists with the TD Bank, say in a report.

They call volunteering “the life-blood that keeps (many organizations) running.”

Despite people’s busy daily lives, more than one billion people around the world do some type of volunteer work, the report says.

“These individuals… generate positive meaningful change.”

Nearly half of all adults in Canada did some kind of volunteer work in 2010. The highest volunteer rates were in Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island.

The International Labour Organization defines volunteering as someone who performs “unpaid, non-compulsory work.” Volunteering can mean helping an organization do fundraising or simply shoveling a neighbour’s driveway.

The number of volunteers in the world is more than the number of people in any one country, except for India or China.

The economists said that there are many benefits from volunteering. Besides the good feeling that volunteering can give you, doing work on a volunteer basis may also help prepare people for the work force. “A person can use the opportunity to develop or improve on skills that may be required for paid work in the future.”

It also lets people “try out” a job before deciding if it’s really what they want to do as a career.

The report says that in 2010 Canadians spent more than 2.1 billion hours volunteering. It equals 1.1 million full-time jobs.

The economists said the average hourly wage in 2012 is $24, which is the figure they used to calculate the economic value of Canadian volunteerism.

*“Economics” is a science that looks at the buying and selling of products and services. -Wikipedia

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan & Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Find Saskatchewan and PEI on a map of Canada. Why do you think the rate of volunteerism is highest in those provinces?

Reading Prompt: Comprehension Strategies

The article includes a comparison, taken from the TD study:
The number of volunteers in the world is more than the number of people in any one country, except for India or China.

Why do you think this comparison was used? How does it help you understand how big volunteering is?

Primary
Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropri- ately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Junior
Identify a variety of reading compre- hension strategies and use them appro- priately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Intermediate
Identify a variety of reading compre- hension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand increasingly complex texts (OME, Reading: 1.3).

Grammar Feature: Nouns and Verbs
Sometimes the same word can be both a noun and a verb, depending on the context. For example, the word ‘volunteer’ can be both – a ‘volunteer’ is a noun (a person) who gives their time to an important cause or ‘volunteer’ is a verb (an action) that involves helping others.

Think of three other words that can be both nouns and verbs. Write 2 sentence for each word: one using the word as a noun and one using it as a verb.