BY BOB ZIMMER
Member of Parliament, Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies
While summer may be months away, every year organizations throughout our region use this time to get their annual applications ready for federal funding under the Canada Summer Jobs Program. This program provides funding to not-for-profit and faith-based organizations, public-sector employers, and small businesses to create summer job opportunities for secondary and post-secondary students.
This year, however, the Liberal government has drastically changed the rules to the application process, requiring organizations who apply for the funding to attest that, “both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”
What has become known as the ‘abortion clause’ has been met with shock and confusion by many in our region who regularly apply for this funding, but who do not feel comfortable making such an attestation due to their personal beliefs.
The right to freedom of belief and opinion is enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, not to mention the preamble to this Charter begins by saying “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognizes the supremacy of God and the rule of law…” It is concerning that the Liberal government is basing funding decisions on whether or not you hold a certain belief.
Many of our deserving local organizations will now be considered ineligible for the Canada Summer Jobs Program because the Liberal government is targeting the personal beliefs of these organizations.
Further concerning is that the organizations themselves will no longer be able to employ many who, for example, help care for the disabled, refugees, or provide day camp for children in need because they do not have the funds to hire the help they need to run these programs.
Last year, the Canada Summer Jobs Program provided over $715,000 in funding to organizations throughout our region, creating almost 200 student summer jobs.
Many past recipients of this funding are deeply disappointed and angered by the Liberal government’s decision to politicize this important program, as am I. I share in these feelings and encourage those who have been affected by this change to contact my office.
I will close with quoting Section Two of our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms entitled Fundamental Freedoms…something the Liberal government may also want to review.
- Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.