Feds clarify LGBTQ and abortions rights attestation for summer jobs funding

The Liberal government has clarified how its new policy on reproductive rights will apply to organizations seeking youth summer job funding — but it’s standing firm on its decision to deny grants to groups advocating against abortion.

“I have reached out to many of the religious leaders across the country … to let them know that this is about the activities of the organization and the job description,” Employment Minister Patty Hajdu said Tuesday in Toronto.

“It is not about beliefs or values.”

Employment and Social Development Canada, which oversees the Canada Summer Jobs program that created nearly 69,000 temporary jobs last year, added a section on its website Tuesday further explaining the language — and the intended goal — of the controversial new requirement.

The Liberals have said that faith-based organizations are welcome to seek federal funding to create summer jobs for youth, but they and all other applicants are being asked to attest to their respect for sexual and reproductive rights — including “the right to access safe and legal abortions” — as well as other human rights.

That stipulation, as outlined in the application guidelines, concerns both the job activity and the core mandate of the organization.

Many churches and other religious groups have said that forces them to choose between their spiritual values and funding that helps run summer camps and other activities that have nothing to do with abortion.

The change to the website is meant to address those concerns.

The core mandate, the website says, refers to “the primary activities undertaken by the organization that reflect the organization’s ongoing services provided to the community.

“It is not the beliefs of the organization, and it is not the values of the organization,” it says.

The website further clarifies what it means when it refers to “respect” for those rights.

“Individual human rights are respected when an organization’s primary activities, and the job responsibilities, do not seek to remove or actively undermine these existing rights,” it says.

The website then also provides some hypothetical examples of what would — and would not — be eligible for funding.

What would get a green light?

“A faith-based organization that embraces a traditional definition of marriage but whose primary activities reduce social isolation among seniors applies for funding to hire students,” website said, noting the programs the student employees developed would be available to all seniors, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

A summer camp that does not allow LGBTQ youth, however, would not be eligible for funding to hire students as camp counsellors.

Beyond that, Hajdu said Tuesday the Liberal government is prepared to defend its decision against legal challenges, on the basis that Canadian law protects citizens from discrimination.

The government received complaints last year that summer job funding had been given to summer camps that refuse to hire LGBTQ staff and groups that distribute graphic anti-abortion pamphlets, Hajdu said.

“We took those complaints seriously and this is the decision that we’ve taken, that in order for organizations to receive funding they have to affirm that they will not work to undermine the rights of Canadians,” she said.

Joyce Arthur, executive director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, said she was glad to see the Liberals clarify the wording.

Her national political advocacy organization, which had urged the Liberals to bar funding to groups advocating against abortion rights, had been concerned the vague language was at the heart of the backlash.

“It confirms our interpretation that the word respect does not mean support or agreement with. It just means that they’re going to not actively undermine the rights that are listed in the guidelines there,” Arthur said.

“I think that if a group still feels that they cannot sign the attestation even with these clarifications, well, I guess they are ineligible for funding,” she said.

Just Posted

Photos: Red Deer barn dance entertains children, adults Tuesday

Hundreds of Central Albertans started their Westerner Days celebrations early with an… Continue reading

Manslaughter charge laid against Red Deer man more than a year after homicide

A manslaughter charge has been laid against a Red Deer man, more… Continue reading

Woman facing charges after pedestrian critically injured in hit and run

A woman is in custody in connection with an alleged hit and… Continue reading

Friday hail storm came at a bad time for farmers

Amount of damage a hail storm does often depends on how far along crops are

Photos: Red Deer barn dance entertains children, adults Tuesday

Hundreds of Central Albertans started their Westerner Days celebrations early with an… Continue reading

Man suffers critical injuries, Red Deer police arrest woman in pedestrian crash

A man is in hospital with critical injuries and Mounties have arrested… Continue reading

Cull hasn’t been able to solve bunny burden in Alberta mountain town of Canmore

CANMORE, Alta. — Problems persist in an Alberta mountain town overrun with… Continue reading

Canada should help Holocaust denier on trial in Germany: civil liberties group

OTTAWA — A civil liberties group is urging the Canadian government to… Continue reading

Westerner Days: Send us your photos

Your reader photo may just make the pages of the Adovcate.

Adam Henrique signs $29.1M, 5-year extension with Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Centre Adam Henrique has signed a $29.1 million, five-year… Continue reading

Fashion firms upend design routine to focus on speed, trends

NEW YORK — Prototypes? Passe. Fashion company Betabrand saw that knitwear was… Continue reading

Trimming and tidying: Perennials need care too

The great attraction in growing perennial flowers is that you never have… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month