Christian employers denied summer grant funding for being Christian

The Trudeau Liberals have not eased their attacks on pro-life Christians who remain excluded from grant funding for summer jobs. By official estimate, 2,031 applicants did not receive funding in 2018 and 2019.

Christian employers denied summer grant funding for being Christian
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The Trudeau Liberals have not eased their attacks on pro-life Christians who remain excluded from grant funding for summer jobs.

Although a federal judge three years ago ruled Christian employers could not be singled out by Ottawa, church petitioners fear their "values screening has moved behind closed doors."

"The review process involves a case-by-case assessment of applications that can be subjective, arbitrary, inconsistent, unpredictable, lacking in transparency and which in some cases seems to involve ideological screening," the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada wrote to MPs on the House of Commons human resources committee.

They heard anecdotally from other faith-based groups also concerned these incidents are not "isolated."

The Fellowship also detailed complaints including one case where the department was "looking for reasons" to deny a routine request for funding to hire a camp counsellor, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

"An applicant involved in providing summer camp to hundreds of children was informed of a Google review in which a parent complained their child, a camper, got a sunburn at day camp," wrote the Fellowship. "This triggered a Service Canada request for proof of workplace safety."

Under the Canada Summer Jobs program, MPs determined which employers received rebates for student salaries. All applications to the Department of Employment are submitted to individual MPs by riding, allowing them to veto any candidate. 

In 2017, Employment Canada compelled all applicants to sign a federal oath, recognizing "the right to access safe and legal abortions" as a funding prerequisite.

It prompted a federal lawsuit when three Liberal MPs in Toronto, Mississauga and Guelph rejected applications from Christian charities for opposing same-sex marriage and abortion, reported Blacklock’s Reporter.

The following year, the Trudeau Liberals mandated all applicants "respect individual human rights in Canada."

In 2019, they ordered applicants to complete a 15-step questionnaire to ensure they did not discriminate against the "sexual orientation or gender identity or expression" of students.

"Any funding under the Canada Summer Jobs program will not be used to undermine or restrict the exercise of rights legally protected in Canada," read the program. By official estimate, 2,031 applicants did not receive funding in 2018 and 2019.

The $263 million-a year program subsidized 50% of salaries to 'approved employers' who hired full-time students for at least 16 weeks, including local businesses, charities and associations.

However, the Evangelical Fellowship said evidence showed federal employees continued "flagging some faith-based groups’ applications for review," according to Blacklock’s Reporter. They claimed applicants did not receive funding owing to their Christian beliefs.

"There is little transparency or consistency," wrote the Fellowship. "We see that in this process sometimes groups are being flagged because of their beliefs, not their actions."

The Federal Court in 2021 upheld a complaint by Redeemer University College who hired students for ordinary charitable works but did not receive funding. The federal government claimed their values posed a "high risk" to students.

The Canadian Centre for Christian Charities also cited instances of churches being singled out for extraordinary questioning unrelated to their reason for hiring a summer student. "For example, churches are asked why assistant ministers or similar ministerial roles need to adhere to a doctrinal statement or statement of beliefs," wrote the Centre.

"The perception of different treatment for religious charities is not without merit," they said. "This perceived differential treatment is most often experienced by way of follow-up requests that focus almost exclusively on the applicants’ religious beliefs."

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