Federal youth jobs program funding will reportedly go to groups that oppose abortion rights

A group of pro-life protesters. Photo from Getty Images
A group of pro-life protesters. Photo from Getty Images

The federal government’s youth summer jobs program will reportedly provide tens of thousands of dollars to organizations that advocate against abortion rights and LGBTQ rights.

The financial support for organizations like the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, which runs a campaign that compares abortion to the Holocaust, counters the strongly pro-choice statements made recently by Liberal cabinet ministers Maryam Monsef, Patricia Hajdu, and Jane Philpott.

The purpose of the Canada Summer Jobs Program is “to focus on local priorities, while helping both students and their communities,” according to the website for Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). The program provides funding for not-for-profits, public-sector employers, and small businesses across the country.

Hundreds of businesses and organizations across the country were awarded job-creation funding for 2016/17, according ESDC. Some examples include the Bay Roberts Cultural Foundation in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian Tractor Museum in Alberta, and several municipalities across Canada.

But some of the money will go towards organizations that work to oppose rights affirmed by Supreme Court decisions and the Charter, said the national pro-choice advocacy group Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) in a statement released on Monday.

“Funding anti-human rights groups does not support communities or teach skills that lead to full-time paid employment with ethical employers,” Joyce Arthur, ARCC’s executive director said in the press release.

Funding for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR), which was awarded $56,695 in 2016/17 to fund 16 jobs, was of particular concern, Arthur said in the statement. The CCBR is a political group opposed to abortion that has campaigned by comparing abortion to the Holocaust or the African-American struggle for civil rights. It uses protest signs and postcard mailers with graphic imagery.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the focus of the CCBR’s campaign 2015 #No2Trudeau campaign. Liberal MPs and candidates responded with a #Yes2Trudeau petition, reaffirming the party’s support for abortion rights.

Other funding recipients include Campaign Life Coalition, which published videos with a therapist who promoted conversion therapy on its website, Life Site News. Another recipient is the Wilberforce Project. Its crisis pregnancy centres reportedly provided inaccurate information to visitors.

The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada says the federal government shouldn’t fund groups that try to remove human rights with bullying and harassment campaigns.

“We call on the Employment and Social Development Canada, Service Canada, and elected Members of Parliament to permanently and completely stop funding CCBR’s hateful campaign against women, trans men and non-binary people, and all other funding that supports anti-human rights organizations,” spokeswoman Kathy Dawson said in the ARCC press release.

Employment and Social Development Canada was not immediately available for comment.