GOVERNMENT ISSUES POLICY, BISHOPS RESPOND

January 11, 2018

CANADIAN BISHOPS INITIATE RESPONSE TO NEW POLICY THAT WILL AFFECT MANY SUMMER PROGRAMS OF FAITH-BASED COMMUNITIES

A letter, issued by the General Secretariat of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, introduces the official response of the Conference by first clarifying the circumstances that required the official response. This is the gist of the letter...

Just before Christmas, the Trudeau government changed Canada's requirements regarding applications for federal funding under its Canada Summer Jobs program. An attestation must now be included that "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." [More details of the Government position are available by clicking on the CSJ link above].

The letter goes on to point out what the present Government incudes among reproductive rights - namely: "the right to access safe and legal abortions"; and their position concerning discrimination regarding sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression is intended to "prevent youth (as young as 15 years of age) from being exposed to employment within organizations that may promote positions that are contrary to the values enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and associated case law."

This is only the latest affront to religious communities from a party that blatantly forbade its members from having any pro-Life attitudes.

Therefore the CCCB foresees that this new out-of-the-blue policy may very well affect many faith-based summer programs, including diocesan and eparchial summer jobs for students, as well as summer camps - such as the Archeparchy of Winnipeg's Ukrainian Camp program. Some religious groups are already preparing legal challenges after the announcement.

The President of the CCCB, Bishop Lionel Gendron, P.S.S., has approved the response, given below, be issued on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Canada. Bishops may also issue individual statements in the near future.

Bishops and all members of the Faithful are certainly encouraged to express their concern and objection to the provocative policy to their local Member of Parliament as soon as possible. The bottom line is that it is a policy that unnecessarily compromises good programs for kids and students that would almost never - if ever - touch upon the matters about which the Liberal Government policy is making an issue. It is rightfully being seen as an attack on religious and individual freedom, since "it limits the right of a faith tradition to hold, teach and practise its principles and values in public".

Perhaps it is very appropriate that among the various faith communities, Christians are collaborating developing a string and insistent response to this bombshell. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, for example, has already put together excellent principal- and talking-points about the underlying issues [click HERE] They also put together an informational FAQ sheet PDF on the issues which may be seen HERE.

Those within the Archeparchy that may be affected by this invasive policy - be it on an eparchial or parish level - are asked to share your statistics with the CCCB Secretariat via the Chancery or directly by 23 January 2018. So that they may share as to how many summer students would be affected and how the programs and those that usually participate in them will suffer.

FYI: One possible online petition - click [HERE]

_______________________

This is the CCCB statement....

Statement by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on recent changes to government requirements for "Canada Summer Jobs" program

Employment and Social Development Canada posted information on its website, dated 19 December 2017, announcing a major change to its requirements regarding applications for federal funding under its Canada Summer Jobs program for youth employment. Attestation must now be included that "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."

According to the Department, this insistence on reproductive rights (which specifically includes "the right to access safe and legal abortions"), sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression is intended to "prevent youth (as young as 15 years of age) from being exposed to employment within organizations that may promote positions that are contrary to the values enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and associated case law."

Faith communities consider abortion, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression as major questions with ethical, moral, social and personal bearing which determine our understanding of human dignity and thus appreciation for the meaning and significance of each and every human life. This new policy conflicts directly with the right to freedom of religion and conscience which too are enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well in associated case law. It seriously undermines the right to religious freedom since the Government of Canada is directly limiting the right of religious traditions to hold, teach and practice their principles and values in public.

In addition to the obvious and regrettable infringement of freedom of conscience and religion in such matters as are raised by the new policy, there will be unfortunate consequences on the ground: summer camps will be forced to close; the services of numerous non-profit organizations will be reduced; valuable opportunities for apprenticeship will be lost. These effects, to name but a few, will be felt in Catholic dioceses and organizations as well as in many other faith communities across Canada.

Furthermore, the recently announced policy represents an attempt to restrict the voices of faith communities in Canadian democracy and to limit their participation in the public square. Moreover, it runs counter to the recommendations issued at the end of March 2017 by the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities which had been appointed by the Minister of National Revenue. These recommendations include that charities be allowed to provide information for the purpose of informing and swaying public opinion, and to advocate to keep or change law or policy, either in Canada (any level of government) or outside of Canada.

11 January 2017


View More News