Many people in Canada volunteer and many organizations rely on volunteers to assist them in achieving their purposes. The Conference Board of Canada estimated that in 2017 volunteers worked for over two billion hours across Canada. Their contribution to the economy for that year alone is valued at $55.9 billion.
Clearly volunteers are vital to the success of organizations such as non-profits and charities but to avoid potential issues organizations and volunteers need to be aware of their responsibilities to each other and to the people they come into contact with.
Volunteers and organizations, like everyone else in society, have a duty of care towards others. This does not mean they are always responsible when someone is injured. They may be responsible if there has been negligence.
There are ways that volunteers and organizations can reduce the chance that they could be sued for negligence. For example, volunteers can refuse to take part in dangerous activities, or organizations can require participant waivers and disclaimers.
Volunteers and organizations must, like everyone else, obey the law. Some areas of law such as human rights laws, copyright laws, defamation laws and child protection laws may be particularly relevant.