Summer jobs attestation violates Charter

A requirement that organizations seeking funding from the Canada Summer Jobs program sign off on an attestation that says they support "Charter and other rights", including reproductive and LGBTQ rights, actually violates the Charter, says Toronto Employment Law lawyer Kevin Marshall.  The attestation violates s. 2 of the Charter, which provides for freedom of conscience and religion, as well as freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, says Marshall.

The attestation, which is included at the bottom of the application, states:  "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 of 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."

"The real issue is not about whether one is pro-life or pro-choice, it's the challenge to a person's beliefs.  It's that their privately held beliefs are now required to conform to the government's position, which is actually a totalitarian impulse," says Marshall.  "The government's position is affecting all groups who just want to hire some kids for summer camp, for example.  The obvious ones are churches, synagogues and mosques that don't believe a pro-choice on abortion, but don't get involved in the abortion issue directly."

"It's utterly absurd.  If someone is being interviewed by me for a job not pertaining to abortion, I have no right to make sure their views on abortion conform with my own.  It's none of my business and I'm not allowed to ask that.  So, if an employer cannot or should not ask those questions, why then is it allowed on the government's job grants application?"   Read more here.

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