Karen Ludwig, Member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest
Faith-based Organizations are Encouraged to Continue to Apply for Canada Summer Jobs Funding
As the Member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest, I encourage all faith-based organizations to continue to apply for Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) funding. Last summer, 300 young people gained valuable experience and income while contributing to our communities. I have had many conversations with constituents and also sent letters to faith-based groups across our federal riding offering clarification on the eligibility criteria for CSJ. When the core mandate of an organization and student job description are to ‘do good’ in the community, then there is no issue what so ever with eligibility.
If the student’s summer task would undermine the rights of others, then the federal government could face court challenges for providing funding support that has been directed against the rights of others. The attestation explanation on the employer’s CSJ application is written in legal language to avoid the government being sued for paying to undermine the rights of others.
These changes will help ensure that a young person in a job funded by the Government will work in an environment that respects the rights of all Canadians. Individual human rights are respected when an organization’s primary activities, and the job responsibilities, do not seek to remove or actively undermine these existing rights. The beliefs and values of the organization are not considered in the application process.
CSJ remains one of the most visible presences of the federal government in communities across Canada. Our government has doubled the number of Canada Summer Jobs available over the past two years. I have seen first-hand what this has meant for small businesses, not-for-profit employers and public-sector organizations. Most importantly, I have seen first-hand what it has meant for the students who were able to return to school after a summer spent working, or reached another career development milestone because of the experience and income they gained.
First, let me share a bit of background on this year’s application process. In 2017, our government heard concerns from Canadians about the Canada Summer Jobs program. It came to our attention that funding was being used to undermine the rights of Canadians.
Second, the 2018 Canada Summer Jobs application asks organizations to confirm that both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights and labour laws and do not support discriminatory practices. The “organization” refers to the entity that is directly applying to use CSJ funding. The core mandate is the primary activities undertaken by the organization that reflect the organization’s ongoing services provided to the community.
Third, I am going to give you these examples to illustrate what this really means. When I shared them with a constituent earlier this week, it prompted a real “aha” moment.
Example 1: A faith-based organization with anti-abortion beliefs that operates a summer camp for disadvantaged youth applies for funding to hire students as camp counselors. The students would be responsible for developing programs for the youth, including leadership and skills development. This organization would be eligible for student employment funding.
Example 2: A faith-based organization that embraces a traditional definition of marriage but whose primary activities reduce social isolation among seniors applies for funding to hire students. The students would be responsible for developing and delivering programs to all seniors, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. This organization would be eligible for student employment funding.
Finally, I want to thank the organizations in the communities I represent for participating in the CSJ program over the past two years. This includes the religious and faith-based organizations who add tremendous value with work which is often focused on compassion and helping those most in need in our society. I have a stack of thank you notes I keep on my desk from the students who have benefitted from Canada Summer job funding. I know that the organizations which have employed these students have benefitted as well. It will be a loss to everyone if the misinformation circulating in any way deters an organization from applying for the CSJ funding available.
I encourage you to apply. The deadline is February 2nd.
I also wanted to draw your attention to an open letter signed by Canadian organizations (including Oxfam Canada and YWCA Canada) to support the recent changes (attestation) made to the program.