Canadians gave a record $6.9 billion to charity in 2004, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.

The agency said it based the total on 2004 tax returns. The $6.9 billion is the value of donations claimed by nearly 5.8 million Canadians – about a quarter of the number who filed a return.

The median donation – the contribution with half the donors giving more and half less – was $230, up from $220 in 2003.

The 2004 total is up 6.3 per cent from 2003.

Albertans were especially generous, increasing their contributions by 13.7 per cent, second only to the rise in the Yukon and just ahead of British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.

Alberta gave $927.1 million. People in Ontario contributed nearly half of the total of $6.9 billion. Quebecers gave less than Albertans, they had the lowest median at $120 and the smallest increase, one per cent.

People in all provinces and territories gave more, StatsCan said.

The nearly 5.8 million people who made a donation is up 3.5 per cent from 2003.

The median donation has increased each year since 1999, the agency said.

Among bigger communities, Abbotsford, B.C. led with a median donation of $540, followed by Toronto at $320 and Saskatoon at $310.

A Senate committee recommended last year that the government introduce new tax breaks to encourage individuals and corporations to give more to charity.