Letter to Ministers on Charitable Status for Pro-Life Organizations

01 December 2021

[Update: For more explanation and what you can do on this issue, see related EFC toolkit, released March 2022]

The Hon. Chrystia Freeland
Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister
The Hon. Diane Lebouthillier
Minister of National Revenue
November 30, 2021
Dear Ministers,
We are writing to express our deep concern and ask for clarification. The Liberal Party platform, Forward For Everyone, stated that a re-elected Liberal government will “No longer provide charity status to anti-abortion organizations (for example, Crisis Pregnancy Centres) that provide dishonest counseling to women about their rights and about the options available to them at all stages of the pregnancy.”
Given the context of the Canada Summer Jobs attestation, we are very concerned at the idea that participation in the public square and a level playing field with respect to government programs could be conditional on acceptance of a particular view of abortion; in essence, subject to a values test.
If there is such a significant review of charitable status, there would need to be answers to basic questions such as what is considered “dishonest counseling,” what mechanism would identify dishonesty, whether the provisions are to be applied to all charitable organizations or only those organizations with particular underlying beliefs about when life begins, and how this would be carried out in compliance with Charter protections.
We are also concerned by the mischaracterization implicit in the platform statement. Pregnancy care centres are a source of support for many Canadian women.
One of our affiliate organizations, Pregnancy Care Canada (PCC), is a best practice association of over 80 pregnancy care centres. These PCC centres exist 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 her with medically accurate information on abortion, adoption and parenting.
A liberal democracy such as Canada is founded on the premise that diverse beliefs will be respected and accommodated.  An endeavor to revoke charitable status on the basis of beliefs about abortion would seem to risk violating Charter guarantees of freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion and expression.
We respectfully request to be included in consultations on changes to charitable status. The EFC engages in public policy issues constructively and collaboratively, seeking the good of Canadian society. We would be happy to meet to discuss these matters and we await clarification of the government’s plans and intentions in this regard.
Julia Beazley
Director, Public Policy
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) is the national association of evangelical Christians in Canada. Established in 1964, the EFC provides a national forum for Canada’s four million Evangelicals and a constructive voice for biblical principles in life and society.

See our updated webpage on government policies for pro-life charities.

Author: Julia Beazley