Bishop's Blog

Canada Summer Jobs Program

Updates

March 28, 2018

A number of Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities across Canada submitted to Minister Hadju a statement and proposed rewording of the Summer Job Program attestation, which she did not accept.

February 16, 2018

Organizations which have applied to the Program (either by altering or modifying the problematic attestation, or submitting a paper application without checking the attention box) have begun receiving notification from Service Canada stating that their applications are deemed incomplete. Service Canada is giving organizations 10 days from the date of its letter to check the attestation box or have their applications rejected. Service Canada is giving organizations 10 days from the date of its letter to check the attestation box or have their applications rejected. Attached is a copy of the Service Canada letter which was scanned from a website.

Mr. Barry W. Bussey (Director, Legal Affairs for The Canadian Council of Christian Charities, one of the organizations that signed the interfaith faith statement released 25 January) is recommending that charities, which are still unwilling to affirm the attestation, respond to Service Canada’s letter by requesting an accommodation under the Charter and the Canadian Human Rights Act. Although it seems unlikely such a response will alter the government’s position, it may be of evidentiary value in future litigation at either the Federal or Supreme Court. A template of the letter is available below should it prove useful to any applicant wishing to respond in this way.

February 8, 2018

As you may already be aware, the Government of Canada has extended to Friday, 9 February 2018, its deadline for applications for the Canada Summer Jobs program. The government however has not changed its position about amending or removing the attestation.

  1. CCCB has updated its website with the statements and letters by Catholic dioceses expressing their concerns. Click here.
  2. Please check the CCCB website regularly for updates on this matter. Or check this page regularly.
  3. If your organization is going to suffer a loss by not being able to participate in this program, or if you have an individual story, please send the details to: communications@calgarydiocese.ca or call 403-218-5500

Letter from the Bishop McGrattan

January 29, 2018

Re: Changes to the Government Requirement for Canada Summer Jobs Program 

Employment and Social Development Canada has changed the application process for the Summer Jobs funding program in 2018.

The following attestation is now required to be checked off by all organizations applying for federal funding from the Canada Summer Jobs program: "both the job and the organization's core mandate respect 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." The government's website further specifies this includes "the right to access safe and legal abortions".  

A number of faith-based organizations are deeply concerned and cannot acquiesce to this new requirement since it would infringe on our beliefs, in the “dignity and sanctity of the human person from conception to natural death”, and the right to freedom of conscience and religion in our democratic society. I share this adamant objection and am advising all Catholic parishes, organizations, and charities in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary not to sign this attestation if they are applying for a grant through the Canada Summer Jobs program.  

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary operates many programs that serve people living in poverty and difficult life circumstances without asking about a person’s background or belief.  We serve because it is our witness of Christ through our faith that motivates us to do so. Therefore, I am disturbed and angry that our long-time tradition of service in our community has been disregarded in the formulation of application process changes. I strongly encourage you to contact your Member of Parliament asking them to remove the attestation from the application process and the determination of eligibility for funding. 

Yours in Christ,

† Most Reverend William T. McGrattan, D.D.
Bishop of the Diocese of Calgary

- Download Letter in PDF 

- FURTHER OPTION WHEN FILLING IN CANADA SUMMER JOBS APPLICATION FORM 


Contact your member of Parliament 

Resources

Photo: Interfaith Press Conference on #CanadaSummerJobs - CCCB/CECC

Most Reverend William T. McGrattan, D.D.
Bishop of Calgary

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The Parable of the Kosher Deli

The Obama administration had recently ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans. However, never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. All of this in a land where the free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.

A vocal opponent of the Obama plan, Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, presented an engaging parable to US House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform.

Once upon a time, a new law is proposed, so that any business that serves food must serve pork. There is a narrow exception for kosher catering halls attached to synagogues, since they serve mostly members of that synagogue, but kosher delicatessens are still subject to the mandate.

The Orthodox Jewish community—whose members run kosher delis and many other restaurants and grocers besides—expresses its outrage at the new government mandate. And they are joined by others who have no problem eating pork—not just the many Jews who eat pork, but people of all faiths—because these others recognize the threat to the principle of religious liberty. They recognize as well the practical impact of the damage to that principle. They know that, if the mandate stands, they might be the next ones forced—under threat of severe government sanction—to violate their most deeply held beliefs, especially their unpopular beliefs.

Meanwhile, those who support the mandate respond, ""But pork is good for you. It is, after all, the other white meat."" Other supporters add, ""So many Jews eat pork, and those who don't should just get with the times."" Still others say, ""Those Orthodox are just trying to impose their beliefs on everyone else.""

Those arguments fail in the public debate, because people widely recognize the following.

First, although people may reasonably debate whether pork is good for you, that's not the question posed by the nationwide pork mandate. Instead, the mandate generates the question whether people who believe—even if they believe in error—that pork is not good for you, should be forced by government to serve pork within their very own institutions. In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no.

Second, the fact that some (or even most) Jews eat pork is simply irrelevant. The fact remains that some Jews do not—and they do not out of their most deeply held religious convictions. Does the fact that large majorities in society—even large majorities within the protesting religious community—reject a particular religious belief make it permissible for the government to weigh in on one side of that dispute? Does it allow government to punish that minority belief with its coercive power? In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no.

Third, the charge that the Orthodox Jews are imposing their beliefs on others has it exactly backwards. Again, the question generated by a government mandate is whether the government will impose its belief that eating pork is good on objecting Orthodox Jews. Meanwhile, there is no imposition at all on the freedom of those who want to eat pork. That is, they are subject to no government interference at all in their choice to eat pork, and pork is ubiquitous and cheap, available at the overwhelming majority of restaurants and grocers.

The question is this: can a customer come to a kosher deli, demand to be served a ham sandwich, and if refused, bring down severe government sanction on the deli. In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no.

At this time the battleground in Canada tends to be education rather than health-care, but the answer in Canada must also be “no!”

Parents are the primary educators of their children and may chose to delegate this authority to the educational systems that are available. These include a variety of forms of education, whether religious, non-religious, public and private, classroom and home, which is already a model for respecting differences.

Some forms of education are based around distinct religious beliefs and respect for a variety of beliefs is an aspect of multiculturalism and pluralism in Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. The provision of a variety of religious and non-religious faith-based schools, e.g. secular schools, is a further evidence of diversity in fact. Respect for difference in the form and substance of education must continue to recognized in Canada.

Canada’s Supreme Court has erred in its latest ruling that a mandatory Quebec curriculum in Ethics and Religious Culture, from which a Drummondville Catholic couple wished to exempt their son, does not infringe the couple’s constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion.

Premier McGinty and Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten in their attempt to force single issue clubs such as gay-straight alliances upon all schools, including Catholic schools, through Bill 13, are also off-side and in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.

Under Alberta’s new Education Act, home-schoolers and faith-based schools will not be permitted to teach that homosexual acts are sinful as part of their academic program, says Donna McColl, the spokesperson for Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk.

In a well-known and often cited passage, Chief Justice Dickson, in the first definition of the Supreme Court of Canada dealing with the definition of the freedom of conscience and religion in section 2(a) of the Charter stated: “The essence of the concept of freedom of religion is the right to entertain religious beliefs as the person chooses, the right to declare religious beliefs openly and without fear of hindrance or reprisal, and the right to manifest religious beliefs by worship and practice or by teaching and dissemination.”

The right to teach religious beliefs is recognized as an important aspect of the freedom of religion. Freedom of religion cannot be reduced to freedom to worship.

☩ Frederick Henry
Bishop Emeritus

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