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Employment and Social Development Canada now requires the following attestation by all organizations applying for federal funding from the Canada Summer Jobs program: "both the job and the organization's core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression." The government's website further specifies this includes "the right to access safe and legal abortions".
While the Prime Minister, the Minister of Employment and Social Development, and the Department's website have recently attempted to explain how this attestation is not intended to exclude faith groups from possible funding, a number of faith-based organizations remain deeply concerned and cannot accept what the government is asking them to do. Questions too have been raised by news media about how the attestation infringes on the
Charter rights to religious freedom as well as to freedom of expression.
Thousands of churches and organizations across Canada are religious charities which operate legally under provincial human rights codes. In carrying out their work, they benefit the communities in which they are located and our nation as a whole. Such charities foster vibrant social networks, spark volunteerism, and foster community resiliency, providing a religious rationale for activities like poverty alleviation and caring for those who are vulnerable. Although these positive ends are experienced by many in the community regardless of faith, they are offered out of a religious context, with a religious motivation to serve.
To help educate the Catholic community and to express concerns respectfully to our Members of Parliament, the following resources have been created to assist those wishing to express their deep concern. The Archdiocese of Toronto has been working closely with many different faith communities who share commons concerns regarding the Canada Summer Jobs Program. Special thanks to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada for their partnership in preparing these resources.
FAQ on changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Grant January 2018
Contact Your Member of Parliament – Sample Letters
More resources (from Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and Evangelical Fellowship of Canada)