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Scindy was a third-year university student when she discovered she was pregnant. She tells her story on the Pregnancy Care Canada website. Scared about the pregnancy and all it meant, Scindy went to a pregnancy care centre for help.
"I was expecting to feel some sort of judgment but I never felt that,” she says. “It was all love. No lie. It was all love. The person I met with, she really just helped me explore my options. ... My son is five years old, and the centre is still with me."
There are so many stories like Scindy’s. Over the past 20+ years centres affiliated with Pregnancy Care Canada have supported almost 160,000 women and men, including providing things like diapers clothing and prenatal education for tens of thousands.
The mandate of these centres is to provide a safe environment for women to make pregnancy decisions that are fully informed, evidence-based, consistent with their belief system and free from external influences. They respect a woman’s right to make her own decision and seek to provide medically accurate information on abortion, adoption and parenting.
It should be common ground for Canadians to believe that a woman in distress, facing an unplanned pregnancy, should be able to find a listening ear and caring support.
Pregnancy care centres offer that. These volunteer-driven ministries care for women in all stages of pregnancy, and many provide supplies and support post-pregnancy, including concrete aid and parenting help. Many also operate out of Christian beliefs.
But pregnancy care centres and pro-life organizations are being singled out for additional government scrutiny and possible exclusion from charitable status.
In late 2021 the government released its ministerial mandate letters which document what the prime minister expects each of the cabinet ministers to prioritize and accomplish in their role.
The finance minister was instructed to "introduce amendments to the Income Tax Act to make anti-abortion organizations that provide dishonest counselling to pregnant women about their rights and options ineligible for charitable status.”
These measures are obviously intended to be directed only at organizations with a particular view on abortion, the pro-life position. The instructions suggest that participation in the public square and a level playing field with respect to government programs could be jeopardized by a values test.
Does the government intend to single out organizations with particular beliefs about when life begins? Will these ministries be subject to greater scrutiny? Will the government penalize pregnancy care centres in particular for the beliefs that undergird their work? How will “dishonest counseling” be defined?
If the government is targeting groups based on their beliefs about when life begins, then many pro-life organizations in Canada will be in jeopardy.
Remember, we’re allowed to disagree in Canada with our government, and even charities are allowed to do that. As the Canada Revenue guidance states, “a charity is free to advocate for retaining, opposing, or changing any law, policy, or decision of government.”
If one type of charity is at risk, all charities are at risk of running afoul of the government and losing their charitable status. Today, it is pregnancy care centres in particular and pro-life organizations in general that may be at risk.
The EFC supports the work of Pregnancy Care Canada and their affiliated centres as they provide care and support for women and children. We are also working hard to ensure the government respects the right to freedom of belief and opinion of Canadians, including charities and pregnancy care centres.
How you can help
- Donate to the EFC’s work to defend the rights of pro-life organizations to continue to serve women, men and children in Canada.
- Call your MP and express your concern about these developments. See the EFC’s resources to help at TheEFC.ca/CharitableProLife.
- Use the enclosed prayer card to continue to pray regularly for the work of the EFC.
Also in this issue: Research projects on Parenting Faith, Canadian Evangelical Small Church; Ministry Partnership & Innovation; Updating you on Canada’s most immediate issues from Parliament Hill; Reconciliation Through Relationships continues to grow.