Update: Government blocks pro-life organizations from Canada Summer Jobs grant

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during the 2017 Invictus Games opening ceremonies in Toronto, Canada Sept. 23, 2017. (DoD photo by EJ Hersom)

17 Jan 2018 Update: Government blocks pro-life organizations from Canada Summer Jobs grant

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UPDATE:

The Liberal government recently has tried to minimize the damage, due to the backlash against the new attestation requirement. In our opinion, however, the government’s explanations do not change the meaning of the attestation, and we will continue to push for its removal.

Employment Minister Patty Hajdu tried to assure churches and other religious organizations that they could, in fact, make the attestation. She argued that the attestation only requires that an organization’s “core mandate” respect reproductive rights. She has not explained what that means. Is it the mission statement of the organization? Does it capture the organization’s activities or programs? What about those that teach about, say, the sanctity of human life?

Further, Prime Minister Trudeau in a recent townhall attempted to clarify that this is not about organizations that believe or express pro-life views. Rather, he said it is only organizations that act to restrict women’s “reproductive rights” that will be hindered by this attestation.

The Canada Summer Jobs program was designed to provide valuable work experience to students and to provide support for organizations that serve local communities. Whether you like the program or think it should be cut, wouldn’t you agree that it should not be turned into a political tool in this way?

You can read our recent blog posts here:

  1. Jan 12: More information on the Canada Summer Jobs grant: does it really block pro-life organizations?
  2. Podcast Interview: Liberals block pro-life organizations from Canada Summer Jobs grant

 We have added a new EasyMail and Phone Script. 

Click here to jump to the Easymail and Phone scripts.


The Canadian government spends millions of dollars each year on the Canada Summer Jobs initiative. This program allows employers to apply for wage subsidies to hire students. The program is open to both not-for-profits and businesses. The objective is to give students meaningful summer work experience and to support organizations that provide community services.

This year, when applying the employers will have to attest:

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.

There are a number of legal problems with this attestation.

  1. This statement is vague. It doesn’t define the “values underlying the Charter” or explain how a private business should respect them (since only the government is bound by the Charter). It also mentions “other rights” without referring to any statute or other legal source.
  2. The government explains that “reproductive rights” include abortion. It is true that abortion is legal in Canada. But legality does not mean there is a positive right (certainly not a constitutional right).
  3. The policy mentions equality rights and “reproductive rights” but does not mention the fundamental Charter freedoms of religion, expression and association.
  4. The government can compel you to obey the law, but it should not require you to attest that you respect the “values” underlying the law. The Charter text actually says the underlying principles are “the supremacy of God and the rule of law”, but a Canadian does not have to profess belief in the supremacy of God and rule of law to enjoy Charter freedoms.

This government has attempted to create an ideological test for employers who seek to use this initiative

This government has attempted to create an ideological test for employers who seek to use this initiative. Given the context in which this change was made, the aim seems to be to prevent pro-life organizations, even if they are not pro-life advocates, to receive funding.

The Right to Life Association of Toronto has started a legal challenge claiming the policy is invalid and contrary to the Charter.

The government should remove the attestation requirement. You can help.


Please join us in calling for a change to this requirement by contacting your MP.

Send an EasyMail to your MP or give them a call. Let them know the problems you have with this policy and what you think about an ideological screening test. Let them know if you have used this program (either as an employer or a student) and the impact the loss of funding will have on your community.

Click below for more:

 

What is a “Core Mandate”

                Call Your MP Here

 

You can pick from our previous two EasyMails if you haven’t already:

Causes Harm to Communities

Equal Access to Government Programs

The letter will be copied to Employment Minister Patty Hajdu, the Opposition Critic on this file Hon. Steven Blaney, and the Prime Minister. As always, we strongly encourage you to customize your email.

If you have used this program in the past or are applying for 2018, contact the Canadian Council of Christian Charities or the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. They are gathering information on those affected by this policy.

If you want more information to fill out your application feel free to contact ARPA Canada as well.


Phone Your MP

Not too many people make the effort to call their MP making it a way to have a memorable impact. He or she is there to listen to people in the riding, regardless of whether you are in agreement.

You don’t have to be an expert to question this policy. Take time to prepare for the conversation so that you know what you want to say before you call. We’ve provided a few talking points to consider and we suggest focusing on one or two points. Listen attentively to their responses and use them to continue the discussion. Don’t be afraid to take your time in the conversation and always maintain a tone of respect.

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You can start the conversation like this: “Mr./Ms. (name of MP), I would like to share my concern with you over the requirement for the Canada Summer Jobs program.”

Here are some talking points you can choose from:

  • I am concerned about the way the new attestation cherry picks rights. Why must applicants respect only “reproductive rights” and “equality”? Why not freedom of conscience, expression, and association? The government should not be filtering out certain beliefs or expression through this process.
  • I am concerned about the way this government is using the Canada Summer Jobs program to make an ideological statement. This program is supposed to offer meaningful work experience for students while supporting local community needs. By ignoring the purpose of this funding, the government is preventing beneficial programs offered by those who cannot make the attestation.
  • How does an applicant determine their core mandate and whether it respects these rights? Is it by looking at what the organization does? Or at their mission statement? What if a church teaches that the lives of pre-born children are precious? How can they sign this attestation?
  • What are applicants supposed to respect? The attestation uses terms like “other rights” and “values underlying the Charter”. What do these terms mean?

Remember to follow up with sending an email within the next 24 hours, thanking him/her for taking the time to listen.

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