Changes Made to the Canada Summer Jobs Program for 2018
January 8, 2018
I have serious concerns over an issue that has recently come to light regarding the Canada Summer Jobs Program (CSJ). For years, the CSJ Program has provided funding to employers across Canada to hire young Canadians for summer job placements. Students benefit by gaining valuable employment and work experience, and communities benefit from the important services provided by these organizations. This has always been done in a non-partisan fashion.
I have learned that the Liberals have tried to quietly, without any consultation with Members of Parliament or Canadian employers, change the process through which employers apply for funding through the CSJ Program. The Government is now requiring those who apply for funding to sign the form that the employer agrees to uphold certain “values”—values that align with the Liberal Party’s own ideology. This is unacceptable and, I would argue, is inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is a deeply concerning development and Canadians should be extremely skeptical of a government that is basing funding decisions on whether or not you hold the same beliefs and values as they do.
There are numerous churches and religiously motivated organizations that receive annual funding through the CSJ Program and have received this funding for years. Typically, these funds are used to run summer camps and programs. Many young people who work at these programs gain valuable work experience over the course of the summer.
In no way are the funds used for any unlawful purpose as this Government seems to suggest. This new requirement would leave these institutions two choices. Choice #1 would be to sign the form against their own beliefs and religion – which for most is not an option. Choice #2 would be to lose the funding and cancel their programs. Religious institutions should never be treated this way by their own Government.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms explicitly protects the freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of opinion. To punish employers applying for non-partisan funding simply because they have different views and ideology than the Government of the day is unacceptable.
If the Prime Minister were to apply this same process to eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS), I am sure that there would be a number of seniors that would either be forced to lie on the form or be forced to live without benefits that they are entitled to.
As a diverse society, Canada allows for diverse opinions and protects those who may think differently than those in positions of power. In fact, the right to freedom of belief and opinion is guaranteed by the Charter.
If your organization is effected by this discriminatory Liberal change, I urge you to submit your application anyway with a brief note explaining that in good conscience you are unable to sign the form.
I will be pressuring the Government to remove this ridiculous requirement in the application process for the CSJ Program and will be watching closely to ensure that employers in my riding are not rejected for refusing to swear to abide by this Government’s priorities.
I encourage you – whether you’re impacted directly or not – contact the Minister of Employment, Patricia Hajdu at Patty.Hajdu@parl.gc.ca and Prime Minister Trudeau at firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know you won’t stand for these dangerous changes. You can also sign the petition at: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1434.