Canada Summer Jobs Grant Program (2017-2019)

03 January 2019
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March 2022: The EFC has applied for intervenor status in the case before the Federal Court of Appeal involving the Right to Life Association of Toronto. Check "Latest News" below for updates.

Thousands of churches and organizations across Canada are religious charities which operate legally under provincial human rights codes. In carrying out their work, they benefit the communities in which they are located and our nation as a whole. Such charities foster vibrant social networks, spark volunteerism and foster community resiliency, providing a religious rationale for activities like poverty alleviation and caring for those who are vulnerable. Although these positive ends are experienced by many in the community regardless of faith, they are offered out of a religious context, with a religious rationale.

The federal government introduced new requirements in 2017 for employers applying for the Canada Summer Jobs grant. To be eligible to receive this grant, employers began to be required to attest that both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect certain “values” as determined by the federal government.

Specifically, the 2018 guidelines mention “individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”

This policy change introduced in late 2017 meant that to be eligible for the grant, organizations had to attest that their core mandate affirms the government’s view on a list of issues, including the government’s position on abortion, sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Organizations unable or unwilling to make this attestation in whole or in part were deemed ineligible for the grant.

Many religious organizations that had applied for these grants and received them in past years became ineligible as a result of these changes. The policy also raised concerns that churches or Christian summer camps, for example, might be ineligible to receive the grant if they wish to hire only students that share their religious beliefs.

These changes in eligibility had a major impact on a wide range of Christian ministries, organizations and programs in 2018. But even more seriously, we believe these changes were a violation of the guaranteed freedoms of religion, thought, belief, opinion and association offered by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, especially the provisions under Section 2.

See the latest news below on how the government revised the rules in 2019 in an attempt to improve the situation for religious groups.

Canada Summer Jobs Grant Program (2017-2019)

Latest News

  • A federal court judge has granted the government's request to hear one group's challenge of the problematic attestation in the 2018 Canada Summer Jobs application. Seven other groups, including three EFC affiliates, will have their challenges of the attestation put on hold until the challenge by Toronto Right to Life is decided.
  • New: The EFC has applied for intervenor status in the case before the Federal Court of Appeal involving the Right to Life Association of Toronto (March 2022)
  • The EFC wrote to the employment minister asking for clarification on terms such as intolerance, discrimination and prejudice in the new application (Jan. 11, 2019).
  • The EFC released an analysis of the 2019 application, focusing on three elements: New wording for the Employer's Attestation that replaces the unacceptable values test from 2018; New criteria for Ineligible Projects and Job Activities which disqualify organizations that engage primarily or solely in pro-life advocacy work; and a Required Description of Hiring Practices to ensure an inclusive workplace free of discrimination (six-page PDF, 3 Jan. 2019)
  • In the first week of December 2018 the government announced a revised application for the Canada Summer Jobs program in response to complaints from the EFC and many other organizations. Soon after, the application form, Applicant Guide and Articles of Agreement were posted online. The EFC responded in a statement Dec. 7, 2018 expressing pleasure and encouragement that the values test has been dropped from the Canada Summer Jobs program (and see related video statement, below). Related media reports: National Post, Macleans, Canadian Press, CBC, Canadian Catholic News.


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