The victory and the challenges of the Canada Summer Jobs changes

21 January 2019

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It is Canada Summer Jobs time again in Canada. The application period for the 2019 Canada Summer Jobs program opened in mid-December and closed the end of January. As you know, Christian charities and churches in Canada tap into the funding provided by the government to hire students and offer programs in their communities, often services that help the vulnerable and marginalized. Last year in a broadly criticized move the government added an attestation that left many faith-based groups ineligible or unable to apply in good conscience.

After widespread protest and multiple inputs from faith-based groups, including a major role played by the EFC, the problematic attestation from the 2018 application (which the EFC held to be tantamount to a values test) was removed from this year’s application. We believe the changes will mean that churches and most faith-based organizations will be eligible for 2019.

We are thankful to our partners and donors who heeded our call to interact with MPs and the government on this issue, by way of emails, letters, visits and phone calls. It made a difference.

The new attestation says: “Any funding under the Canada Summer Jobs program will not be used to undermine or restrict the exercise of rights legally protected in Canada.” Unlike last year’s attestation, this limitation is tied only to the use of the funds, and not to the values or activities of the organization generally.

The ability to check off this attestation, then, should not be impacted by other activities carried out by the employing organization, for example, a church in which the pastor has preached about life issues, marriage or sexuality.

We judge that the positive change here is the government’s making of a funding decision based on activities, not on the basis of a values attestation. This revised attestation – although better for most Christian organizations – means that organizations that engage primarily in pro-life advocacy work will likely not be eligible for funding under the program.

Funded projects will also need to be open, without discrimination. For example, a church-run day camp that benefits from CSJ funding would need to be open to campers and staff without discriminating on the basis of religion, race, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, etc., except as allowed by labour laws.

The application explicitly asks employers to describe their hiring practices and how they are free from discrimination.

The application says that projects are ineligible for CSJ funding if they “advocate intolerance, discrimination and/or prejudice.” The Applicant Guide defines “advocate” as “to promote, foster or actively support intolerance, discrimination, and/or prejudice.” Since “project” has been defined to include an organization’s activities, the EFC has sought clarification from the government on the interpretation of these terms and asked that guidance be provided to applicants.

The EFC affirms life is a gift from God for us to respect and protect in all its stages, from conception to natural death. We know the current government takes a strong pro-abortion approach to law and policy. While we strongly disagree, we recognize the government has the prerogative to determine funding priorities and to decline to fund even lawful activities.

The EFC believes the changes to the 2019 application and guidelines, which happened in a response to the organized outcry, will allow churches and the majority of Christian organizations to apply for Canada Summer Jobs funding and be considered eligible.

With your help, the EFC will closely monitor how these restrictions are applied in 2019 and will continue to work to protect freedom of religion and conscience, and the ability of people of faith to participate in the public square.

For updates on this issue

What you can do

  • If you interacted with your MP on the 2018 attestation requirement, thank you. Please consider thanking any politician to whom you might have spoken. It is important to remind government that the Canadian Church does not just complain, but we express gratitude as well.
  • Please continue to check back at for more updates, insights and clarifications on Canada Summer Jobs 2019.
Also in this issue: Reflecting on Canada Summer Jobs with Julia Beazley, EFC director of public policy; Youth research makes its way across Canada; Updating you on Canada’s most immediate issues; Message from the president; The EFC launches Church-in-Community Initiative; and more.