When can a health-oriented organization be registered as a Charity?

The courts have held that the promotion of health can be charitable. The promotion of health in the charitable sense means directly preventing or relieving mental or physical health conditions. 

As an example, to qualify under the promotion of health, an organization can carry on activities that involve diagnosing and treating identified health conditions. In addition, all health care services and products provided by a registered charity must meet the applicable requirements relating to effectiveness and quality and safety.

In most cases, to be considered effective, health care services or products must be shown to: 

  • eliminate the presence of or
  • reduce the symptoms of an identified health condition or
  • or prevent injury or
  • prevent loss of life.

To demonstrate effectiveness, an organization must show that the service or product has been clearly recognized by Canadian provincial, territorial, or federal health authorities or by the Canadian Medical Association. Or, the health care service or product must be recognized by at least three licensed physicians who are certified in a related area of medicine and who are not connected to the organization. The quality and safety requirement, on the other hand, consists of the standards normally expected to be met by a health care provider in Canada or standards normally applied to health products.

In regards to providing health care services, services that are eligible for coverage under the Canada Health Act or for coverage under any provincial or territorial medical insurance service plan in Canada will generally be considered to be charitable. If not, health care services will be recognized as furthering a charitable purpose only if the organization can show that they directly prevent or relieve a physical or mental health condition and meet the applicable requirements relating to effectiveness, and quality and safety. 

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