Editor's note: Get the latest news on related issues at TheEFC.ca/SummerJobs.
The Hon. Patricia Hajdu
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
140 Promenade du Portage
Phase IV, 12th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0J9
We appreciate the consultation and dialogue carried out by your office this past fall as the 2019 application and guidelines were being developed. This was a helpful process, and we recognize the changes to the 2019 program as a reflection of the government’s efforts to respond to the concerns of churches and faith groups across Canada. It is our view that churches and most faith-based organizations will now be eligible to apply for funding under the program.
In continuation of this dialogue, we would like to ask for clarification on some terms in the 2019 CSJ program. For example, the Articles of Agreement section 15.0 and the Guide state that projects or job activities are ineligible if they “advocate intolerance, discrimination and/or prejudice.” The Guide provides the following definition, “To ‘advocate’ means to promote, foster or actively support intolerance, discrimination, and/or prejudice.”
Unfortunately, the Guide does not define intolerance, discrimination or prejudice or offer examples of what kinds of activities might advocate intolerance, discrimination and/or prejudice, so it is not entirely clear how this may be interpreted or applied. Further, since “project” has been defined in the Articles of Agreement to include an organization’s activities, it is important that the government clarify and interpret these terms in a way that does not impinge on freedom of belief, expression and opinion.
Please clarify how these terms will be interpreted and make this supplementary guidance widely available so that applicants and Service Canada employees can clearly understand how an organization’s activities might be relevant to this restriction, and what kinds of organizational or job activities might be captured.
We believe that employers who in good faith hold that they are not advocating intolerance, discrimination or prejudice should feel free to apply, with the expectation that legal activities flowing from biblical teaching are not what is meant in this restriction, and we are advising our affiliates as such.
Although the EFC affirms that life is a gift from God for us to respect and protect in all its stages, from conception to natural death, we know that your government takes a strong pro-abortion approach to law and policy. While we respectfully [and strongly] disagree with this approach, we recognize that the government has the prerogative to determine funding priorities.
Our hope is to engage constructively and work collaboratively with government for the good of our nation. To this end, we would welcome continued dialogue on this and other issues of concern to faith communities.
Director, Public Policy
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
Author: Julia Beazley