OTTAWA — A Federal Court judge says it was reasonable for Ottawa to require applicants to its summer-jobs program to declare themselves in support of abortion rights in order to get funding.
In a decision Friday, Justice Catherine Kane dismissed a legal challenge to the federal government from the Right to Life Association of Toronto and Area as well as its former president and a student who’d hoped to work at the organization.
The court case came after the Liberal government added wording to the Canada Summer Jobs program application that required groups to say neither their core mandates nor the jobs being funded actively worked to undermine reproductive rights.
Faith-based groups felt the wording went against their religious beliefs, so the Liberals reworked the declaration and eligibility rules for 2019 to make applicants say they don’t work to infringe any Canadian’s legal rights, rather than reproductive ones.
However, the new ruling says the program’s pro-choice attestation fell within the labour minister’s authority and had a “minimal” impact on the court applicants’ charter rights.
The jobs program aims to encourage small businesses and non-profits to bring on students and others looking for early experience by subsidizing wages for summer workers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2021.