In 2018, the Liberal government added wording to the Canada Summer Jobs program application that required groups to say that neither their core mandates nor the jobs being funded actively worked to undermine human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights.
The “other rights,” the rules noted, were “women’s rights and women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of gender-diverse and transgender Canadians.” It explicitly included “the right to access safe and legal abortions.”
The change led to a lawsuit from Toronto Right to Life after they refused to sign the attestation.
On October 22, 2021, a Federal Court judge found it was reasonable for Ottawa to require applicants to its summer-jobs program to declare themselves in support of abortion rights in order to get funding and dismissed the legal challenge.
Action Canada For Sexual Health and Rights was one of two groups granted intervenor status in the case.
We took the stand to argue that activities of anti-abortion organizations are inconsistent with Charter values and that government money should not be used to support activities that cause harm and violate constitutionally guaranteed rights. We spoke of the public health impacts of anti-choice activities that fuel abortion stigma, as year-round, we speak to Access Line callers who are targeted by abortion disinformation and receive calls from people confronted with anti-choice materials in their mailboxes, on bus ads, and in the form of protesters.
We celebrate this legal victory and will continue to fight for reproductive rights in Canada and globally.