By Dale Bass – Kamloops This Week
The city’s member of Parliament isn’t happy with changes the federal Liberal government has made to the Canada Summer Jobs program.
Cathy McLeod, Conservative MP for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, said new rules require employers to sign an attestation when applying for funding to help them hire for summer jobs.
An attestation is a declaration the organization’s core mandates respect the guarantees provided through the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. McLeod said the requirement is causing issues for faith-based employers.
McLeod said she has been contacted by several church groups who hire staff for summer camps who are upset.
“They can’t in good conscience sign the attestation,” McLeod said. “I share their concerns. This is an overstep by the government.”
The concerns centre around a conflict between religious values and some rights protected in the charter, including reproductive rights.
McLeod said Service Canada, which oversees the jobs program, will use the signed attestations to determine eligibility; if one is not submitted with an application, it will be considered incomplete and ineligible for funds.
In a briefing to MPs, the government said the changes do not make churches or faith-based organizations ineligible.
KTW contacted Service Canada in Ottawa to clarify what potential applicants who have religious beliefs in their core mandates that conflict with the Charter must do for funding.
Service Canada media representatives would only reply by email and said applicants “are not asked to provide their views, beliefs of values” because they are not considered during the application process. However, the agency would not reply to questions about the conflict between religious values and signing a declaration of support for the Charter despite those conflicts between religious beliefs and protected rights.
The emailed response noted “the requirement is consistent with individual human rights in Canada, Charter rights and case law and the Government of Canada’s commitment to human rights, which include women’s rights and women’s reproductive rights and the rights of gender-diverse and transgender Canadians.”
Service Canada also said providing false or misleading information on the attestations could impact eligibility for funding.
McLeod called the change a wrong decision that is too rigid. She said she has encouraged those who have contacted her to also send their concerns to Service Canada.