Bishop's Blog

Canada Summer Jobs Program


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: 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 


Contact your member of Parliament 


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

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

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Walking Forward Together

In one of his homilies (29/04/2013), Pope Francis commented on the text: "God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all" [1 Jn 1:5]. He pointed out that "we all have darkness in our lives, moments where everything, even our consciousness, is in the dark." But this does not mean we walk in darkness:

Walking in darkness means being overly pleased with ourselves, believing that we do not need salvation. That is darkness! When we continue on this road of darkness, it is not easy to turn back. Therefore, John continues, because this way of thinking made him reflect: 'If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us'. Look to your sins, to our sins, we are all sinners, all of us… This is the starting point. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful, He is so just He forgives us our sins, cleansing us from all unrighteousness… The Lord who is so good, so faithful, so just that He forgives.

Pope Francis urges us to stand in front of the Lord "with our truth of sinners," "with confidence, even with joy, without masquerading… shame is a virtue: blessed shame." This is the virtue that Jesus asks of us: humility and meekness.

The process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) has brought about a painful awakening for so many Catholics, and we see our culpability much more clearly than we did before. Some of the darkness has been lifted and our "blessed shame" has occasioned many apologies, before and during the TRC process, and has taught us much about humility and meekness.

Although many priests, brothers, sisters and lay people served in the residential school with generosity, faithfulness, care and respect for their students, this was not always the case. The TRC final report rightly observes that when Christians, through the residential schools, belittled Indigenous students as pagans or demonized, and punished and terrorized them into accepting Christian beliefs, this was in fundamental contradiction to the core beliefs of Christianity. In addition to the reprehensible crimes of sexual abuse, the failures to respect the identity and freedom of Indigenous children outlined in the TRC report are saddening and must never be repeated.

The TRC's Call to Action, recommendation #48 states: "We call upon the church parties to the Settlement Agreement, and all other faith groups and interfaith social justice groups in Canada who have not already done so, to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms, and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation."

Four Catholic organizations — the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Canadian Religious Conference, the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council, and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace — in responding to the questions raised on the legal concepts known as Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius (no one's land) have issued two documents on March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the principal saint of Canada.

The Catholic response to Call to Action #48 issues an appeal to all Catholics to make eight commitments in order to walk together in breaking open a future of acceptance, respect, justice, and reconciliation. I will cite four of those commitments that have particular relevance to our Diocese:

  1. Continue to work with Catholic educational institutions and programs of formation in learning to tell the history of Canada in a way that is truthful, ensuring proper treatment of the history and experience of Indigenous Peoples, including the experience of oppression and marginalization which resulted from the Indian Act, the Residential School system, and frequent ignoring or undermining of signed treaties.
  2. Work with centres of pastoral and clergy formation to promote a culture of encounter by including the study of the history of Canadian missions, with both their weaknesses and strengths, which encompasses the history of the Indian Residential Schools. In doing this, it will be important to be attentive to Indigenous versions of Canadian history, and for these centres to welcome and engage Indigenous teachers in the education of clergy and pastoral workers, assuring that each student has the opportunity to encounter Indigenous cultures as part of their formation.
  3. Encourage initiatives that would establish and strengthen a restorative justice model within the criminal justice system. Incarceration rates among Indigenous people are many times higher than among the general population, and prisons are not sufficiently places of reconciliation and rehabilitation. Such initiatives include the renewal of the criminal justice system through sentencing and healing circles and other traditional Indigenous ways of dealing with offenders where appropriate and desired by Indigenous Peoples.
  4. Support the current national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and work with others towards a healthier society where just relations flourish in families and communities, and where those most vulnerable are protected and valued.

The second document responds to the errors and falsehood perpetrated, often by Christians, during and following the so-called Age of Discovery. Both documents and appendixes can be found on the CCCB website,

☩ Frederick Henry
Bishop Emeritus

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