Canada Summer Jobs 2020: Coming Soon!

Authored by the CCCC Legal Team

Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) applications for 2020 will be available soon.

The CSJ program is administered by Employment and Social Development Canada. The Hon. Carla Qualtrough, MP for Delta, BC is the current Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.

The Prime Minister’s 2019 mandate letter to Minister Qualtrough speaks directly to CSJ, instructing the Minister to collaborate with “the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, [to] enhance the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy and the Canada Summer Jobs program.”

At first glance, this is not particularly informative; however, there is more to be gleaned from this and other mandate letters. In the opening section ministers are instructed to align government resources with priorities. This is logical and makes sense. But what are those priorities? Among other things they include:

  • Substantively engaging with Canadians, civil society and stakeholders, including business, organized labour, public sector and charitable sector
  • Applying Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in decision-making
  • Developing maximum labour force participation
  • Implementing a Disability Equality Statement

Looking at the mandate letter for the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, additional government priorities include:

  • Building a country where every person has equal opportunity to succeed
  • Championing the full breadth of Canada’s vibrant diversity and advancing greater inclusion
  • Ensuring Canadian diversity is celebrated and respected in all its forms
  • Establishing an Anti-Racism Secretariat
  • Ensuring rigorous GBA+ is performed on all Cabinet proposals from every department
  • Continuing the work of the LGBTQ2 Secretariat to promote LGBTQ2 equality, protect LGBTQ2 rights, and address discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities
  • Investing in LGBTQ2 organizations to hire staff, expand services
  • Laying groundwork for an LGBTQ2 action plan to guide work of the federal government
  • Ensuring that an upcoming State of Youth report adopts an intersectional approach that includes race

These give a fairly clear picture of government priorities. It also tells us – in broad strokes – ways in which the government may enhance CSJ 2020.

We can also look at what is not mentioned. There is no reference in either of these mandate letters to faith, religion, or belief. Religion simply does not register as a priority. Perhaps it is subsumed in the terms diversity, inclusion and equality; however, without explicit mention in other documents, it is probably a stretch to make that assumption.

As you may recall, the 2018 CSJ program required applicants to attest that both the job and the organization’s “core mandate” respected individual human rights, including values underlying the Charter, which included “reproductive rights” among other things.

In 2019, the attestation was replaced with the statement that “any funding under the Canada Summer Jobs program will not be used to undermine or restrict the exercise of rights legally protected in Canada,” which included the weakening or limiting of “a woman’s ability to access sexual and reproductive health services.” That, in turn, was defined to mean abortion, sex education, family planning, gender-based violence prevention and response, and post-abortion care.

As Barry Bussey noted in a January 2019 blog post, there was “no guarantee that the government will not enforce an interpretation of its 2019 program that violates employers’ freedom of religion and conscience.” Indeed, some faith-based organizations were denied funding and a court challenge was launched.

The 2018 attestation likewise sparked multiple court challenges, with Toronto Right to Life being the first. A procedural decision was made in that case but a decision on the merits has not been made. Several other challenges to the 2018 CSJ program were put on hold pending the final outcome of the Toronto Right to Life case.

Whether recourse to courts for the 2020 CSJ program is necessary remains to be seen. We will be sure to keep you posted as information is made available!

You can read Barry’s entire Canada Summer Jobs blog series here.

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