Liberals try to allay fears of faith-based groups over summer jobs program
Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, speaks to reporters at a Liberal cabinet retreat in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. (Jeff McIntosh / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 17, 2018 4:07PM EST
OTTAWA - The Liberal government says it is reaching out to faith-based organizations that have concerns about needing to prove they do not violate charter rights, including those with respect to abortion, in order to apply for funding aimed at creating summer jobs for youth.
A spokesman for Employment Minister Patty Hajdu says federal officials have been proactively contacting organizations that have received funding through the program in the past to answer questions and field concerns about the new application process.
The program has been the target of controversy from religious groups who fear they will be blocked from the program, since applicants must attest that neither their core mandate nor the job itself oppose human rights, including those relating to abortion, sexual orientation and gender identity.
The decision stems from a controversy last year when officials approved tens of thousands of dollars for groups opposing abortion.
Some faith-based organizations have discussed submitting an alternative attestation, such as by saying they support all charter and human rights law, but do not want to be compelled to express support for reproductive rights.
Employment and Social Development Canada nonetheless says the attestation must be provided for the application to go through.