Canada Summer Jobs Report Released

15 April 2024

A committee of MPs has just released a report on their study of the Canada Summer Jobs program.  

The EFC made a written submission to the committee last October. In its brief, the EFC noted that the grant program helps many churches and faith-based groups hire youth to serve their community. This is a vital program that has a positive impact for many churches and faith-based organizations. 

Some, however, feel they are being flagged for review due to their religious beliefs.  

A problematic attestation had been added to the Canada Summer Jobs application in 2018. The EFC, along with many faith-based organizations, civil liberties groups, and others, objected to the attestation. Our primary concern was that this was, in effect, a values test. The EFC has consistently said that the ability to participate in a government program must not be limited on the basis of the religious beliefs of the applicant.  

We were pleased the problematic part of the attestation was removed for 2019 and following years. 

With the changes introduced in the 2019 program, the EFC had hoped that, while there would still be restrictions on the kinds of jobs or activities that could be funded under the program, there would no longer be screening on the basis of values or beliefs in the application process.  

However, as we expressed in our October 2023 submission to the committee, the EFC is concerned that the values screening has moved behind closed doors.  

As the EFC brief states, 

“The review process involves a case-by-case assessment of applications that can be subjective, arbitrary, inconsistent, unpredictable, lacking in transparency and which, in some cases, seems to involve ideological screening. We’ve heard from enough faith-based groups that we are concerned these are not just isolated incidents.” 

The EFC asked the committee to recommend the program follow the principles of transparency, procedural fairness and consistency. We asked the committee to recommend a careful consideration of the program’s compliance with Charter protections of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion and expression. Finally, we asked that applicants be considered on the basis of their activities and actions, and not be screened or excluded on the basis of beliefs. 

The EFC wrote, “If the government is going to offer grants, it must offer them on a level playing field and not use ideological screening to determine who is eligible to apply for funding.” 

The committee tabled its report in the House of Commons on April 9.

In its report, the committee noted it had heard from organizations like the BC Humanist Association and the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada asking that “the government either maintain or strengthen requirements precluding groups that ‘undermine’ or ‘work to oppose human rights from receiving funding.’ 

The report went on to state

“The committee received briefs, particularly from faith-based organizations, sharing concerns regarding the transparency of the eligibility screening process. The Canadian Centre for Christian Charities suggested making certain information public, such as circumstances requiring an organization to provide additional information to the government pertaining to eligibility, along with the criteria used to assess this information; and cases when a program officer would conduct research on an applicant using publicly available information. Doing so, they noted, would “clarify the process for all applicants,” and “help to ensure consistency in application assessment.” 

The concerns of faith-based organizations were more specifically recognized in the dissenting report by the Conservative Party: 

Submissions from Faith-Based Organizations

Paragraph 52 mentions briefs supporting the current attestation and recommendation to the 'strengthen' it. However at least three briefs received by the committee (the Canadian Centre for Christian Charities, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and Luseland Bible Camp) all presented an opposing viewpoint and raised serious concerns around religious freedoms and fairness in the delivery of the program.  

While Paragraph 53 mentions these organizations' submissions in passing, it does not clearly present their concerns surrounding the fairness of the eligibility screening process. These organizations assert that while the attestation included in the 2018 application was removed, applicants from faith-based organizations continue to be subject to additional scrutiny from Service Canada. They raised concerns about potential infringements on Charter-protected religious freedoms while questioning the department's qualifications in evaluating bona fide occupational requirements and adjudicating in matters of human rights.  

The absence of their points of view in the report does not fully present the contrast in opinion the committee received in the briefs submitted.   


While many of the recommendations made in this report are worthwhile, officials in charge of the Canada Summer Jobs Program must also take into account the specific barriers too many applicants are finding in both the application and review processes due to poor program design or a lack of clear service standards. They must also take into consideration the specific feedback of faith-based organizations, who serve such an important role in delivering the program across Canada.

Canada Summer Jobs is a vital program that benefits many Canadians – the youth who are employed, the organizations that hire them and the communities they serve. We will continue to ask that problems with the program be addressed.