Agape Centre in Cornwall Ontario Tax Return Information from Canada Revenue – Boggling by Jamie Gilcig – Oct 24, 2013

AblaisAGAPECornwall Ontario – When I wrote my piece about Alyssa Blais and the Agape Centre sending out nasty legal letters to former Agape people from Ottawa Law firm Emond Harnden it was a surprise preamble of an expose I’d been preparing.    The fact that this charity had the audacity to challenge someone in this manner is odd enough; but today I myself received a phone call from someone claiming to be from the law firm.

It reminded me of a quote Sean Connery once used in a movie so I decided to start digging further.    I mean someone takes a swing at you it kinda makes you want to take a swing back, right?

So I went to the CRA website and decided to pull the info on The Agape Centre going back several years.

Frankly I was shocked.  Can you imagine an organization spending nearly $1M per year in a city of only 46,000?

How many different individuals are served per year? Food bank we’re talking which is the main purpose of the Agape; not the junk store.     100?  200?  1000?  If you divide 1000 by the yearly budget you could theoretically donate close to $10,000 per year to each person served which is probably an awful lot more than what most people get that use the Agape Centre regularly.

In 2010 Judy Dancause was still in charge.   BOARD LINK They had 1 staffer in the $40K- $79K range and 9 in the up to $39 range.

for a total of 10 full time and 15 part time staff with a budget of $470,170.00.

They reported total assets of $ 1,118,851.00; chiefly in real estate ($ 1,126,744 before amortization).

Under Liabilities they reported $ 602,544 in deferred revenue (I’m not even sure what that is!)

Under revenue they issued tax receipts for $ 139,699 in gifts.   $ 134,092 for gifts with a receipt not given.  $ 106,981 in funds raised.  $ 491,114 in sale of goods for a total amount of $ 934,869!

Advertising and promotion  $ 8,314, Travel and vehicle expenses $ 16,835, Interest and bank charges $ 10,234, Office supplies and expenses  $ 11,254, Occupancy costs $ 87,289, Professional and consulting fees $ 12,534.
Education and training for staff and volunteers  $ 2,062
Total expenditure on all compensation $ 470,170

Amortization of capitalized assets

$ 68,270
Other expenditures not included in the amounts above  $ 147,404

Total Expenditures

$ 834,366
That left nearly $100K more in revenue if my weak math skills are getting this?
Of interest:
Total expenditures on charitable programs  $ 537,163  – So Agape raised nearly $1M to spend nearly $900K on just over $500K in services in 2010.
Total expenditures on management and administration  $ 68,498  –  that’s actually a fairly reasonable number.
Total expenditures on fundraising  $ 228,706    That’s an epic fail when you spend nearly twice as much on fundraising as you actually raise!
Now for 2011.
In 2011 CRA started what they call a Quick view of a charity report.
Here is what Agape stated that their programs were.

Programs and activities:

Help the needy by operating the following programs: 1. Food bank 2. Soup kitchen 3. Clothing and furniture outlet 4. Snowsuit program
Those are all needed.

agape 2011 qv 1

2011 total revenue is $896K – total expenses $873 K – total services $558K   Fundraising expenses $244K

agape 2011 comp

Now this gets fuzzy to me.   After all I’m not an accountant.  According to numbers filed by Agape above they spent $558K or 64% of their expenses on services, but also spent $486K on staff?  That seems to equal more than the totals they filed?      They also had 4 full timers over the $40K mark per year which seems pretty heavy for a food bank of this size city?

Alyssa Blais started   2010-12-20 which means 2011 is all hers depending on when they have their official year end.   So the first year that she is Director staffers over $40K double.

Brian Snyder, Mayor Kilger’s Brother in Law is the Chair and cliquesters like Rick Shaver and Denis Lapierre (who is now Mr. Shavers head sales guy at the Seaway News was also on the board.) Lise Snider is also on the board as well.

agape 2011 assets liab

I’ll have to find out what they mean by deferred revenue?   Their numbers look pretty good.  I mean when you’re assets are above your liabilities that’s always a good thing.

agape 2011 rev

Looking at revenues it shows that in some ways Agape is more a junk store competing with our local flea markets rather than a food bank as they seem to be mostly cycling dollars.   I guess employing people isn’t the worst thing to do?

agape 2011 exp 1

Wow, Agape spent nearly $1K per month on advertising and promotion (none with CFN for the record)

agape 2011 exp 2

This is confusing to me.   They show $69K in management and admin yet have four jobs over $40K per year?    $244K in fundraising; but where are the results?

Let’s look at 2012 now.

agape 2012 prog

Alyssa and her team added their BIG GARDEN for FRESH PRODUCE.    Brian Snyder is still chair, but current chair Jim Healey joins.

agape 2012 rev exp

$896K in revenue – $825K in expenses.  With three years in the black like this you would expect the Agape would have a pile of cash in the bank?  Yet they report having less than $30K cash on hand?   Note they spent $261K on fundraising.  Kinda makes you wonder what they count as Fundraising?

agape 2012 comp

Staffers back to 2 over $40K – still over $450K in salary and now $10K in extra professional/consulting fees.

agape 2012 ass lia


agape 2012 rev

Junk shop sales equal over half of Agape revenue in 2012.

agape 2012 exp 1

Again, I’m not quite sure how they add up their numbers….

agape 2012 exp 2

Charitable programs in 2010 under Judy Dancause $537K   – in 2011 (transition year)  under Ms Blais $558K  in 2012 $445K in 2013 $455K

In 2012, Alyssa Blais first year clear of Ms Dancause her charitable programs drop nearly 20%.

agape 2013 ass lia


agape 2013 rev 1

agape 2013 rev 2

Cash from junk store is still over half of the revenue for the Agape Centre in 2013.

agape 2013 exp

agape 2013 exp 2

Consulting fees jump to $28K   Wonder if that was spent on researching Ms Blais new concept of having an orchard for Agape?

So the trend we see is that expenditures on services is running near equal with yearly staffing costs?


Salaries 2010: $470,170 – 2011: $486,880 – 2012 $483,472 – 2013: $449,781

Is the purpose of the Agape to employ people or feed and care for people?   What’s not on this list is the amount of volunteers and volunteer hours.  While CFN does not have any statistics we do have an awful lot of former volunteers with very little good to speak of Ms Blais and the Agape Centre under her command.


Looking at these numbers it begs the question of why this business model is in play?  It seems more like preserving an asset in the property than providing real care for those that need it most?   But I’m not an expert and can be completely wrong.

Wouldn’t it make sense to sell the property and either buy or lease a smaller location and run a food bank and emergency service facility that was volunteer based?

There was a church on Pitt Street that sold last year to the good folks at CBM that was listed for less than $300K – surely if Agape had made a sideways move like that interest from the remainder of the sale of their property could help fund their services?


But the late Joe Gunn, who was a pundit on our radio station said he’d never donate to them after they nabbed around $200K from the city to buy the building.   He shared that it should be up to people to donate or not by their choice and not have tax dollars spent.   I tend to agree with his position.

City Councilor Elaine MacDonald clearly doesn’t as she lobbies council to toss out an extra $57K to Agape for….adding value to the building.   Ms MacDonald is also on the board of…..the Agape Centre.

Whomever one day replaces Ms Blais has to learn to develop community support.   The Agape buys a lot of food according to last years bleating on Ottawa television.   The Mission should come first.   Wouldn’t it be better to get support from area orchards than planting them?  Is that really a priority and how much did that cost Agape so far?

And how do you have such a large facility without having a shelter of some sort?  Even a day shelter?

Surely there is an ill in this organization when it is as staff heavy as it is for the services it delivers?  At least to a reasonable person.

Is the junk store really making any money at the end of the day when you consider the cost of staffing, trucking, waste disposal and the amount of real estate it takes up in the facility?  Are the allegations of cronyism and nepotism true?

And at the end of the day should this charity be firing off expensive high end Ottawa legal firm lawyer letters willy nilly?   Shouldn’t a charity have to be transparent?  Shouldn’t its board and staff be accountable?

And finally should a charity be a launching site for someone’s political aspirations or machinations?

The public supports helping the community; but this group seems to be failing at raising money and really good at spending it; and seemingly more on salaries for staff than on services for the poor?

Does this scribbler have the answers?  Well maybe a few. I’ve heard some great ideas since I started researching and digging on Ms Blais and her team at the Agape.     I’ve met some nice people who used to work and volunteer there that would dearly like to help again one day; but the common song they sing is; after Alyssa Blais is gone.

Next chapter – we start to release the interviews….

In the meanwhile what do you think dear viewers of CFN?  You can post your comments below.

And to sift through the Agape Centre’s filings on the Revenue Canada site CLICK HERE

Milena Cardinal



  1. all these numbers give me a headache but it doesn’t look like much profit comes out year end which defeats the purpose of this whole charity concept it acts more as a business with a soup kitchen

  2. Author

    Todd charities aren’t really supposed to make a profit. They are supposed to fill a mandate though and if the mandate of the Agape is to feed and help the poor then spending over half your resources running a junk shop might not be a solution…

  3. while i understand that but the more profit the more you can buy for the food bank everyday they complain and moan about not having enough if you would spend less on salaries and made more of profit then this could be achievable

  4. Excellent investigative work on display here. This is why I keep coming back to this site.
    Next time I’m opting for a VIP subscription, although I find the designation a tad pretentious.

  5. Author

    Michael anyone that shows their support for CFN with their hard earned money to that level is definitely a VIP. It’s not just supporting CFN – it’s supporting free and independent media.

  6. Often what happens is the goal of an organization changes and its more about building kingdoms as the bigger they grow the bigger the CEO salary must be is the common thought , however a low salary does not necessarily mean a lower grade administrator it just might mean a person ready to start at the bottom and move on to better things based on merit.

    I am sure there are a lot of local people who would work at Agape for well under 40,000.00 a year and others willing to take on the job of the CEO also for less

  7. I remember when I was interviewed for the Thrift Shop Manager postion a few years back ( and actually declinded the offer when they said I could have the job). It was mentioned that I needed to be tactful when dealing with volunteers as my position was well compensated and that could create animosity amongst the volunteers.

  8. It’s a Fool’s Overture going on at the Agape. I used to bring junk as left overs from church rummage sales. Not anymore since I saw that the “poor’ were picking up food in cars, carrying the newest smartphones and baby clothes that cannot be found in Cornwall, expensive shit, you know.
    I’m looking forward to the interviews. Eat crow Alyssa Blais, you ain’t going nowhere with this lawyer shit.l

  9. At least they are not on the “Sunshine List”

  10. Keep digging Jamie – she’s special!!!

  11. Author

    Thanks Granny 7 – What I’d like to see is a real audit and explanation of the Agape’s numbers. What we reported were only the numbers that they provided revenue Canada. They also got a big Trillium grant for….Marketing…. your tax dollars at work!

  12. Oh by the way deferred revenue….
    Let’s say someone donated a $1,000,000 building to a charity and that building had a useful life of about 40 years with no scrap value. The building’s value is decreased evenly over the 40 year period from 1,000,000 to 0. This decrease in value is recorded yearly as an amortization expense.
    Going to the matching principle and revenue recognition principle of GAAP, the revenue has to be matched with its expenses in the same year it is incurrered. So you would recognize the revenue year by year in the same period in which you accrue the expense.
    So the “deferred revenue” account, in my example, would be the un-amortized portion of the building asset.
    At year 20, the building having half its useful life left, would only be worth $500,000
    and since *Assets = Liabilities + Equity* (the golden rule of accounting), this is why the entity has a deferred revenue account under liabilities, and in my example that deferred revenue would be $500,000.

    In a normal business situation (for-profit), the item generally would not be donated and would go to some sort of equity account (e.g. a stake in the business in the form of Common Shares etc). However, because it’s a non-profit, deferred revenue exists as a liability account.

    So agape’s “deferred revenue” account is equivilent to the ***unused*** portion of the assets in which have been donated to them.

  13. The last point I would like to make is that revenue does not equal cash.
    Revenue takes many forms including promises to pay (accounts receivables).
    Similarly expenses takes many form including debts to other organizations (again not cash).

    You can’t really say “$896K in revenue – $825K in expenses. With three years in the black like this you would expect the Agape would have a pile of cash in the bank”… because this has nothing to do with cash whatsoever, And as I explained in my first post, all the “net income” (which is the difference between revenue and expenses) went to pay the organization’s debt.

    You can’t audit and “expose” an organization without having an accounting background, which the author does not.

  14. A financial audit is one thing, but an audit of Agape’s economy, efficiency and effectiveness in using resources to achieve goals — a performance audit — seems in order.

    This of course would follow a financial audit that precisely identifies all of the individuals and entities receiving recompense from the Agape Center — quite useful information that would reveal the suspected nepotism, cronyism and fraud that undermines community trust and the purpose of charity.

  15. Author

    Simon it does seem odd for a charity to behave in the manner Agape is. When we get people coming to us telling their story and Agape refuses to comment or discuss (emails were sent to Ms Blais & Elaine MacDonald – voicemail left for Chair Jim Healey) The only communication so far from Agape is someone claiming to be from their Ottawa law firm calling and one of the board members hitting me up on linked in. Don’t those urging Agape to chase us into court realize there’s a process called disclosure which means Agape would have to open its books and communicate if they chose to issue suit?

    CFN hasn’t even printed the really hard material yet or interviews and people are screaming for lawyers? Is that what a charity should be spending its money on? Introspection is never a bad thing. The leadership of Agape right now is showing why suggestions of a housecleaning are so critical and maybe the City itself should be providing basic services like a food bank, and soup kitchen instead of this mess. The money that is raised to help those that need it should be focused on them; not on a building which still has ties to its last owners.

  16. The math is simple. Bernie Boo-Boo was quoted in the AdBag that 11,000+/- equivalent meals provided in 2012. You can throw a pretty plush party at $100/plate. Edward Styles is no accountant.

  17. You can make an argument for the erroneous interpretation of the audit/report, certainly. But at the end of the day the only thing that matters is whether we, as taxpayers, are receiving value for the money spent. Does the benefit justify the expense? Is there a better alternative to the current Agape Centre which would deliver more, to fill the needs of the community, in a more efficient manner? Charities would not be designated as such if they made a profit and to take that designation a step closer to common sense here is food for thought; If a purported charity gives back less than 50% than it takes in, then really why should it have charitable status? When the lions share of the incoming donations are used for operational overhead, location, administration, salaries, benefits, advertising, etc. then really people is it not just a business designed more to simply suck money from unassuming pockets and provide a few jobs all the while enjoying preferential tax treatment?

  18. I have heard on more than one occasion that Alyssa Blais has suspended(banned) needy people from eating at the Agape soup kitchen for various infractions (like being a couple of minutes early, before the noon opening, trying to shelter from inclement weather) Some of these suspensions have lasted for many days! I find it mind-boggling that she would have the audacity to deny food to a hungry person. Who does she really think she is? Is the Agape Centre really a soup kitchen or is it a business enterprise?

  19. She needs to leave town….how can she show her face in public after this. Her head hangs down in shame!

  20. The Agape Center needs a Director and staff who can relate to the people that they provide services for. Who have been in their shoes, has had to face on going struggles trying to make ends meet. The Centre also needs to expand their vision to include not only a day shelter that provides resources and onsite services (mental health, addiction ect. community resources) but also dare I say it; a shelter that will provide beds. I think as a community we must put pressure on the Agape Centre to do more than shell out food and clothing and plant a garden. They should be a positive link to other resources, offer onsite programs to address their client needs, and offer genuine love and support. I think they have the wrong Director and Elaine MacDonald should sit down and shut up when it comes to this Centre. After all, did she not opt out of the community exercise to live in poverty for one week because she other things on her agenda to look after? Spare me!

  21. The original founder, Theresa LePage would be rolling over in her grave. This god send to the community should be memorialized with at least a picture and her story posted so people would know what real volunteer work was about. She was not recognized as a citizen of the year but by heaven she should have been. I was privileged to volunteer for a few years when we prepared recipient cases for food baskets at Christmastime. The staff, yes a number of family members participated tirelessly as well. Searching out gifts by age and gender groups from 1 to 10 was a big job. We collected them by inquiries of family members when assessing for the gifting of turkeys and other food stuffs that we also volunteered for personal deliveries. So many stores would send so much we had a hard time keeping up,,,and most of it was free to us… All kinds of kindness’s and money gifts were provided in secret… many didn’t want the recognition as they gave fro their heart.

    St. Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army would trade names to avoid too many duplications. The churches (many of them) were also involved with money as well as volunteers back them….in the 80’s and 90’s in my era, but much before and since.
    What the heck has happened to us today. It seems it is such a ‘business’ now. So much can be said about the hundreds involved. Many stories to tell if all put together.
    Do not let this function fail. It’s value is immeasurable in so many ways. Sure, there are a few who take advantage, however, we have to continually ask the question, What Would Jesus Do (WWJD).

  22. 420 – It seems that when you don’t like something a woman says or does you make reference to a barn yard animal. Celine Dion (Horse ) Elaine Mc Donald (Chicken Lady). You must have the hot looks of Brad Pitt to have the confidence to say these things.

  23. It seems the numbers are quite out of the odinary for this type of organization.

    But if we are so concerned may I ask how many people posting here actually volunteer time and goods to reduce their costs?

    I admit to not participating>

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