This year businesses applying for the Canada Summer Jobs program will have to attest that they respect reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination.
This attestation was added for good reasons after it was found that some of the grant money was funding anti-abortion groups.
However, many groups, including some faith-based organizations, are saying this doesn’t respect their freedom of religion.
It’s important to note that the government has clarified, saying the phrase “core mandate” is key. To qualify, it’s not the “values of the organization” but the primary activities of the organization and the job activity. This attestation should not be a surprise to businesses, which cannot discriminate while hiring employees. And the government has stated many times that women’s rights are human rights.
In Canada, you’ll notice that our freedom of expression/religion is listed second in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Our first section is what is known as the reasonable limits clause. While the application of the charter is very complicated, the basic understanding is that you have freedoms within reasonable limits.
The law allows abortions; the law allows same-sex marriages. It should be common sense that this attestation is included in an application for government funding.
If organizations cannot indicate they respect these rights, then government funding should not be given to them.
The federal government has recently announced a new policy around applications for Canada Summer Jobs funding: businesses and organizations applying must now show that their primary activities respect an individual’s reproductive and human rights.
Well, that’s good, right? But hold on. We live in Canada. Isn’t that something that our Charter of Rights and Freedoms already points out?
Two of the main charter points include “freedom of expression” and “the right to equality.”
It should be a given that any organization or business seeking public funding should follow Canada’s charter and all the laws that we Canadians live by day in and day out.
By coming up with these new guidelines it’s like the government is saying “look at us, we’re progressive, we see equality issues and we’ve got a solution.”
But that’s not really what has happened, is it?
Instead of looking into why businesses and organizations that may be violating our charter received federal funding in the first place, the attention has been put on excluding those that appear to be disrespectful of human rights and celebrating those that outwardly embrace the government’s views.
I am in full support of respecting individual human rights. What I’m not in favour of is the government making a splashy announcement about something that should have been done all along.