A spokesperson for Statistics Canada says data released this week proves that southeastern Manitoba is among the most generous regions in our country, with two cities taking the top spots in the entire nation.

On Monday, Statistics Canada released information on charitable donations for the 2019 tax year. Spokesperson Francois Page says the data comes from tax forms. The statistics are compiled from tax filers who request a receipt and then declare it. Page acknowledges that their numbers are an underestimate because not all people claim all of their donations.

When you look at the median donation for Manitoba, it worked out to $470 in 2019. That is good for a tie for 4th place in Canada, behind only Nunavut, Alberta and British Columbia. The median amount represents the middle point: half of the donors gave more than the median and the other half gave less. The average donation for Manitoba was $2,190, which ranks our province 5th in Canada. But, when it comes to the percentage of tax filers who donated, Manitoba ranked number one and has been there a long time.

Page says 21.9 per cent of tax filers in Manitoba, made a charitable donation in 2019. He notes for the last 15 years, Manitoba has been the province with the highest proportion of tax filers that declared charitable donations. He notes, just like the overall Canada numbers, the proportion of tax filers who declared a charitable donation in Manitoba in 2019 decreased slightly from the previous year.

If you break down the numbers even further, you find that Steinbach ranked number one when it comes to median donations among metropolitan areas with a population of over 10,000 people. Steinbach's median donation was $2,130. Second, on that list was Winkler at $1,640. Page says these two cities were also ranked number one and two when considering the percentage of tax filers making a donation.

Within southeastern Manitoba, nearly every community exceeded the provincial average for median donations in 2019. Leading the pack was Blumenort at $3,830, then Steinbach at $2,140, then Kleefeld at $2,090, then Grunthal at $1,600, then Landmark at $1,560, then New Bothwell at $1,350, then Niverville at $1,200, then Ste. Anne at $620, then La Broquerie at $530, then St. Pierre at $520, then Lorette at $360 and St. Malo at $350.

Page says if you consider the proportion of tax filers from the southeast that make a charitable donation, this is certainly one of the most generous areas of the country. He notes one of their data sources would suggest that attendance at religious services appears to be linked with higher rates of donations.

Meanwhile, Page says there is an interesting trend in Steinbach. Whereas the highest average donation in Canada is in the 65 and over age group, within Steinbach, the highest average donation is from those aged 55 to 64.

As noted, the data comes from the 2019 tax year, prior to COVID-19 hitting our country. Page says he is very curious to see what the numbers will look like for the 2020 tax year.

"It's hard to say," he says. "Will people, from a donations point of view, be more moved and donate more because of the troubling times or will it be a situation where so many people are impacted that they just can't give as much?"