Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Canadian goose / Volunteerism

Just to share a short video of a Canadian goose that I took last week at Stanley Park.
Yes, I think the goose knew I was there, but it was nonplussed about it. IMHO, it helped that I walked up very slowly, calmly and steadily towards it; and also that I was "down-wind" (i.e. the wind was blowing from the goose towards me). Yes, at one point I laughed in my heart at the mental images that if I were not a vegetarian, this would be a good opportunity to spear* the goose and have roast goose! [*Note: I am not suggesting for anyone to do that, for the Canadians treasure their wildlife.]


Last week, I visited various Metro Vancouver tourist attractions thanks to the free pass I received from volunteering with one of these attractions. IMHO, the free pass (for a fortnight) is such a good way to show appreciation to volunteers during BC's Volunteer Appreciation Week.

[2013 Volunteer Appreciation Week
- A fortnight's free pass]

The spirit of volunteerism is strong in Metro Vancouver. [Note: For an idea of how ingrained volunteerism is in the Canadian culture, see the news article below.] For many young Vancouverites, besides contributing to causes that they believe in, it is a way to get references and community experience for their future resumes and/or take a peek into potential careers.

Many newly-arrived immigrants do not instinctively understand the value of volunteering: 
  • how it can open up new worlds/opportunities/careers for them, 
  • how it can help them break out of their ethnic ghetto, 
  • how it can be a part of their process of learning about the Canadian society and integrating with it, 
  • how it may be useful to have some Canadian community contacts (especially since many in such social/charity/volunteer organizations are open-to and supportive-of immigrants), and 
  • how it may possibly lead to the hard-to-acquire Canadian experience and/or references.

[Extracted from Yahoo! Finance Insight, dated Wed 24-Apr-2013.]

Volunteering worth $50 billion to Canadian economy
By Brenda Bouw | Insight – Wed, 24 Apr, 2013 11:29 AM EDT

Volunteering not only makes you feel good, turns out it’s also good for the economy.

A new report from TD Bank has pegged the economic value of volunteering in Canada at $50 billion each year, or about three per cent of Canada’s GDP, which is the same size as the Manitoba economy.

“The economic value of volunteering demonstrates that it is possible to get more than what you pay for,” said the report’s authors, TD economists Craig Alexander and Sonya Gulati.

“Put simply, $50 billion represents a lot of value. It is too large to simply dismiss.”

The report marks National Volunteer Week in Canada, which runs from April 21 to 27, and celebrates the estimated 13.3 million volunteers across Canada.

While some might argue volunteering is just free labour, others see it as a way to advance skills or provide selfless acts that allow them to give back to the community.

TD argues volunteerism provides economic value that is “very real,” yet “seldom noticed and rarely discussed.”

For example, it cites opportunity cost for spending a limited resource, “in this case, time – on unpaid work as opposed to paid work.” An example is gaining a skill that better prepares someone for a paid job in the future. There is also value in the generation of social capital, or the “intangible benefits associated with volunteering,” the report says.

TD came up with the $50-billion figure by calculating the estimated 2.1 billion hours worked at average rate of $24 per hour. The data is based on the 2010 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, from Statistics Canada .

The $50-billion figure is “conservative,” TD says, because it doesn’t include capital investment, for example. The total is also said to be roughly half of the value of Canada’s non-profit sector, as estimated by Statistics Canada.

“If the value of volunteer work were a company, it would be in the league of the largest firms in Canada listed in the S&P/TSX Composite Index – on the basis of market capitalization – sandwiched between corporate giants like Suncor Energy and the Canadian National Railway,” the report says.

While TD sees the report as a fitting way to celebrate National Volunteer Week, the authors addressed the potential “passionate rebuttal” that putting a dollar figure on volunteerism may be considered “distasteful and/or disrespectful.”

“It is short-sighted not to appreciate this perspective and to flippantly ignore the passionate rebuttal to economic valuation,” the report says.

“Despite the skepticism attached to the exercise, putting numbers to volunteering does help to demonstrate the societal and economic importance … Comparison and context enable us to understand and protect volunteering which is generally overlooked and its importance dismissed at first glance. An economic lens fosters appreciation for a crucial element of the social fabric that binds the community together.”

National Volunteer Week began in 1943 as a way to draw attention to the contribution women made at home during the Second World War, according to Volunteer Canada www.volunteer.ca


  1. Canadians are encouraged from young to volunteer for all kinds of charity work, from health awareness organizations, to local community charities, to sports events, etc. And volunteerism sticks with them throughout their lives. It is great to see people of all ages giving back to the community.

    SK, Ottawa.

    1. Hi SK,

      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

      > Canadians are encouraged from young to volunteer for all kinds of charity work... And volunteerism sticks with them throughout their lives.

      Yes, I suspect this is how Canada builds its community spirit, a culture of social equity, and a sense of shared destiny.

      Cheers, WD.