We want to inform you about a very important issue that is currently unfolding in Canada, threatening the rights of people of faith across the country.

For the past several years, City Centre, like many other non-profit organizations, has received funding from the federal government’s Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program. This has allowed us to hire student interns which has been a great benefit to ministry at City as well as a service to the community.

However, the federal government has introduced new requirements for employers applying for the CSJ grant. This policy change means that to be eligible for the grant, organizations will have 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.

According to the guidelines, religious organizations can apply for the grant. However, if they cannot agree with the government’s position, they will not be eligible. Essentially, the government is telling us that we must accept its “values”. Yet, the values of pre-natal life and traditional marriage are anathema to the current government.

There has been widespread pushback from numerous faith communities and organizations to this move, including the Canadian Council of Christians Charities and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, both of which City Centre is a member. These changes could mean, for example, that we would ineligible to receive this grant if we wish to hire only students that share our religious beliefs. Even more seriously, we believe it is a violation of the guaranteed freedoms of religion, thought, belief, opinion and association offered by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If the government can make such funding conditional upon an attestation of values, who is to say that our very status as a non-profit organization could not be made conditional upon the same attestation?

In recognition of the confusion and outrage this policy has caused, the government recently issued a “Supplementary Information” document. However, this document fails to recognize that 1) for the Christian, our core mandate flows from our beliefs; 2) “reproductive rights” remain an unresolved and legitimately debated issue; and 3) it references freedom from discrimination without any mention of the right granting provisions of Human Rights legislation across the country for private organizations to maintain their identity in hiring those in compliance with their beliefs and practices.

We want to encourage you as a Christian and responsible citizen to consider acting in the following ways:

1. EDUCATE yourself on this developing issue. Here are some great places to start:

https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1434

https://lifepetitions.com/petition/petition-canada-won-t-fund-summer-jobs-unless-employers-support-abortion-tell-them-no

2. PRAY for religious freedom in Canada to be respected and protected. Pray for our government and leaders to be faithful to our democracy and subject to the Lordship of Christ.

3. CONTACT YOUR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT and express your concern. Ask them to seek changes to the policy. The deadline for applications under the CSJ program is February 2nd, so consider taking a moment right now to find your MP and send an email something like this:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear [MP’s name],

I am a constituent in your riding. I appreciate the time you devote to serving our community.

I am very troubled by the change to the Canada Summer Jobs grant program. In order to be eligible for funding, employers will now have to attest that their organization’s core mandate affirms certain beliefs. As well, under the terms of the grant, it seems that churches and other faith-based organizations may not be able to hire only students who share their faith.

Although the guidelines say that religious organizations can still apply, these organizations will not be eligible to receive the grant if they cannot agree with the statement in the application. This policy change will have a negative impact on many faith-based organizations and their ability to provide needed and helpful services in our community.

Freedom of religion, belief, thought, opinion and expression are fundamental guarantees in the Charter. This new policy seems to violate these freedoms.

Please be an advocate for our community and for our fundamental freedoms. Please let me know what efforts you are making to change this policy.

Sincerely,

[name, address]

YOU CAN FIND YOUR LOCAL MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT by clicking HERE