The Canada Summer Jobs program provides wage subsidies to employers to create employment for secondary and post-secondary students. In 2018, the Government of Canada is requiring employers to attest that the job and their core mandate do not discriminate on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Furthermore, the employer must affirm respect for “values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights”, including abortion. If an employer is unable to affirm this, the application will be considered void.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) and the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC) are concerned that the wording will mean religious organizations will not be able to hire only students who share their faith. This is in tension with provincial human rights codes which allow religious organizations such as churches, religious camps, and religious schools to hire only individuals who share their faith commitments.
On March 19th, the House of Commons voted on a motion to affirm that organizations that do non-political, non-activist work should be able to access summer student funding regardless of their private convictions and whether or not they sign the attestation of values and beliefs. Unfortunately, this motion was defeated with 93 in favour to 207 against. Click here to find out how your Member of Parliament voted. In response to the motion’s defeat, the EFC posted an Interfaith Update on March 28th.
An online petition is underway that calls for the removal of the attestation and is available for signing until June 6th.
What can you do?
Please urge other believers in your community to pray for religious freedom in Canada to be protected and respected, for our churches and ministries to be able to continue to work for the good of our society without hindrance, and for God to be glorified. Please pray and ask God to lead and provide for these organizations as they determine how to respond to the government’s recent policy change.