Volunteer rate leads the way
Blondin-Andrew says support on way for volunteers

Glen Korsrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 27/99) - Recent statistics show Northerners led almost all other Canadians in volunteer activities.

According to the NWT Labour Force survey compiled by the NWT Bureau of Statistics, 41 per cent of all Northerners aged 15 and older were engaged in some kind of volunteer activity in 1998.

Though the employment information in the survey was released Sept. 10, the volunteer statistics were released to the media last week.

The Canadian rate for volunteering, according to the 1997 National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, is 31 per cent.

Only Saskatchewan had a higher rate of volunteer activity than the NWT with 47 per cent.

Respondents to the NWT survey were asked to report any unpaid volunteer activities that they had taken part in through a group or organization in 1998.

"It wasn't looking at participation that is informal like helping a neighbour shovel snow or visiting a friend in the hospital. That was not asked," said Roslyn Smith, who is the senior advisor of volunteer development with the department of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Meanwhile, MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew said last week that the federal government is set to enter into an accord with the volunteer sector to give support and see what volunteers need.

"We can help them through the tax system," she said.

"A lot of non-governmental organizations get tax-exempt status. This is an area where you have to explore the possibilities."

Blondin-Andrew said though volunteering comes from individual initiative and not government, the government would be there if volunteers need supplies to continue their work.

"A lot of people volunteer to impart their knowledge, like retirees and people with specific skills," she said.

"They go back into the community and volunteer thousands of hours to teach people to read, to head up programs on elders and seniors. You look at Yellowknife: Al Falconer. He's just a champion for elderly people."

Falconer is only one of Yellowknife's many volunteers. He has been active with the Yellowknife Association for Citizens Concerned about Seniors as well as other volunteer activities.