An Open Letter Supporting Recent Changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program

Posted on January, 28 2018 by Action Canada

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau, Ms. May, Ms. Ouellet, Mr. Scheer, and Mr. Singh,

The undersigned organizations wholeheartedly support the recent changes made to the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program, which seek to secure greater fulfillment of human rights in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[1] We call on all political parties in Canada to do the same.

These changes align with Canada’s existing domestic and international human rights obligations, including to guarantee the right to security of the person, equality rights, the right to be free from discrimination (including discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression) and the right to access accurate, scientific and non-judgemental health information (including information related to safe abortion care).

Significant misinformation has been widely circulated in the media about the nature of the attestation that is now required by organizations that wish to apply for federal government grants for student jobs through the CSJ program. We are confident that the safeguards introduced to the CSJ program are not discriminatory, and do not represent any infringement on freedom of religion, conscience, or any other rights that people in Canada enjoy. The attestation does not force any organization or institutions to, for example, engage in work to promote access to abortion or perform same-sex marriage if they do not wish to do so. Nor does it require any individual employee in any organization to change their religious beliefs. These new safeguards are designed to ensure that federal grant monies are not used to fund discriminatory activities that undermine human rights, including as they relate to bodily autonomy, sexuality, gender identity and expression.

Federal government grants should not be used to undermine human rights, including the legal right to safe abortion (an essential medical procedure), which has long been recognized in Canada.[2]  Indeed, no government funding should be made available to any organization or for any activities that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or are meant to undermine women’s rights, equality rights or any other human rights.  In regards to abortion, which has dominated conversation regarding recent changes to the CSJ, groups that oppose the right to access safe abortion services[3] should not receive federal grants to create or disseminate misleading information, or support activities, centres, networks or facilities that work to restrict, control, or manipulate information people receive about abortion.

The provision of accurate, non-discriminatory, non-biased, scientific and evidence-based information on sexual and reproductive health is part of the right to sexual and reproductive health and rights as defined in international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In upholding this right, States must “refrain from censoring, withholding or intentionally misrepresenting health-related information…”[4] In addressing violations of this right, Canada, like all States, must take active steps to address barriers in access to sexual and reproductive health information that include biased counselling and the dissemination of misinformation.

The Government of Canada has a responsibility to ensure that its policies, programs and budgets respect, protect and fulfil human rights. There is, therefore, no justification for federal grant monies to be made available for any organizations or activities that undermine any human rights.

The changes made to the CSJ program are grounded in respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canada’s obligations under international human rights law. We welcome the steps taken to ensure that the rights of all people in Canada are protected and call on all political parties to support these changes.

The letter is open to sign-on from organizations across Canada (not individuals). If you are a Canadian organizations interested in signing the letter, please click here »

ORGANIZATIONAL SIGNATORIES

  1. Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
  2. National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL)
  3. Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
  4. Catholics for Choice Canada
  5. Oxfam Canada
  6. Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
  7. Fédération du Québec pour le Planning des Naissance (FQPN)
  8. Women’s Legal Education & Action Fund (LEAF)
  9. CATIE
  10. Alberta Society for the Promotion of Sexual Health
  11. Egale Canada Human Rights Trust
  12. YWCA Canada
  13. Canadian Health Coalition
  14. Trans Health Information Ottawa
  15. Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
  16. CARE Canada
  17. National Abortion Federation (NAF) Canada
  18. Thunder Bay Emergency Shelter House
  19. Women’s Network PEI
  20. Canadian Federation of Students
  21. SHORE Centre
  22. Abortion Support Services Atlantic
  23. HN Pro-Choice Coalition
  24. The Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity
  25. Women’s Wellness Within: An Organization Serving Criminalized Women
  26. Ten Oaks Project
  27. Pro-Choice Peterborough
  28. Media Action Media
  29. Well Woman Counselling
  30. Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada
  31. Women’s Human Rights Education Institute
  32. Alberta Pro-Choice Coalition
  33. Options for Sexual Health
  34. The Network of Black Business & Professional Women
  35. Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba
  36. Women and Gender Studies Department, University of Regina
  37. Sexual Health Lunenburg County
  38. Planned Parenthood Ottawa
  39. Abortion Access Now PEI
  40. PEI Abortion Rights Network
  41. Women’s Shelters Canada
  42. PEERS Alliance
  43. South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
  44. Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
  45. Ubuntu Ottawa
  46. Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development (ICAD)
  47. International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO)
  48. Positive Living North
  49. San Patten and Associates, Inc.
  50. Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change
  51. Social Rights Advocacy Centre
  52. HIV North Society
  53. Canadian Arab Federation
  54. Peel HIV/AIDS Network
  55. Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW)
  56. Saskatoon Sexual Health
  57. Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
  58. Health Initiative for Men (HIM)
  59. Ottawa Victim Services
  60. Society of Edmonton Atheists
  61. Kind Space
  62. Canadian Federation of University Women
  63. HIV / AIDS Legal Network
  64. Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC)
  65. Women of Halton Action Movement
  66. Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women
  67. Canadian Positive People Network
  68. Women’s College Hospital
  69. Inter Pares
  70. Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC)
  71. Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW)
  72. Canadian Women’s Foundation
  73. University of Ottawa Centre for Health Law Policy & Ethics
  74. Planned Parenthood Toronto
  75. Nelson House Ottawa-Carleton
  76. Oasis Centre des Femmes
  77. The Gender and Sexuality Resource Centre, Carleton University
  78. Sheet Harbour Sexual Health Centre
  79. Friends of Medicare (Alberta)
  80. Informed Choice Coalition
  81. Mothers of Change of the National Capital Region
  82. Calgary Sexual Health Centre
  83. WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre
  84. Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS)
  85. The AIDS Committee of Durham Region
  86. BullyingCanada Inc.
  87. Canadian Syrian Cultural Club
  88. Arabic Cultural Club of Ontario
  89. LGBT Youth Line
  90. S.O.S. Grossesse
  91. Réseau des Lesbiennes du Québec (RLQ)

MEDIA CONTACT
Ani Colekessian
613-241-4474 ext 7
ani@actioncanadashr.org


[1] https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/canada-summer-jobs/supplementary-information.html

[2] The right to safe abortion care is legally protected in Canada. The 1988 Supreme Court of Canada decision R. v. Morgentaler, found that the existing legislation surrounding the regulation of abortion in Canada violated section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by infringing upon a woman’s right to security of the person. Hearing arguments using section 15 (equality) of the Charter in 1989, the SCC determined that the only individual that could make the choice of terminating a pregnancy was the woman in question and that no other individual had a legal say in a woman’s choice to either carry a pregnancy to completion or to have an abortion, further enshrining reproductive rights within the Canadian legal context.

[3] http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/CPC-study/list-anti-choice-groups.pdf

[4] UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 14 on the right to health, 2000.