Richmond MP refuses to validate summer jobs applications over human rights declaration

Alice Wong says form will discriminate against organizations that do not attest to "core mandate" and beliefs

Richmond Centre member of parliament, Alice Wong, has written to Service Canada saying that she will not sign off on Canada Summer Jobs Grant applications due to her opposition to the newly required attestation form.

“The Canada Summer Jobs attestation is little more than a politically motivated intervention,” Wong’s letter, sent to Service Canada at the end of March said. “The functional effect is that an organization has to sign an attestation stating they share certain values with the Liberal Party of Canada in order to be eligible to receive funding.”

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The attestation form, which was added to applications at the end of last year, includes a statement that says, “Both the job and my 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 or sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.”

Ninety religious leaders from various faith-based organizations wrote a letter to the prime minister in January expressing their concern over the addition to the funding application.

“With the changes to the Canada Summer Jobs guidelines, many organizations will be deemed ineligible because they are unable or unwilling to attest that their 'core mandate' and beliefs align with the current government’s position,” the letter said. “These groups are being denied equal access to a government benefit solely because of their religious beliefs or conscientious objection.”

For Wong, the attestation is a “slippery slope.”

“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms permits the right to freedom of belief and opinion, even those that are contrary to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada,” her letter to Service Canada said.

In response to early push back to the new attestation, Service Canada has published supplementary information on their website, including examples of who would be eligible to apply. Specifically, federal funding would be denied if an organization purposefully discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation or has active anti-abortion campaigns.

The supplementary information also clarifies that the “core mandate” referred to on the application form is defined as “the primary activities undertaken by the organization that reflect the organization’s ongoing services provided to the community.

“It is not the beliefs of the organization, and it is not the values of the organization.”

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