In small groups looking for funding for summer programs, some people had a problem with an attestation the Canadian government required signed in order for people to apply for the Canada Summer Jobs Program.
The government had a valid purpose behind the attestation; according to the application guide, the attestation is to ensure “both the job and the 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 from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.”
According to a March CBC article, “applications to the program have increased slightly to 42,718 from 41,961 last year. Reported rejections, however, have skyrocketed, increasing 12-fold to 1,561 from 126 in 2017.”
By the looks of media discussion, the reproductive rights portion of the charter stumbling block for many groups.
In Canada, we have a right to safe abortions. We have laws stating that and we have healthcare officials who are willing to ensure the health of women when receiving the procedure.
In Canada, everyone is also safe from descrimination on the basis of being LGBTQ+, a woman, a racial minority or being a person with mental and physical disabilities, meaning these cannot be reasons to deny employment.
But we would be remiss if we believed discrimination does not happen at all in Canada, especially in the workplace.
Say for example a group wanted to descriminate on the basis of skin colour. Suddenly the conversation would have a very different tone.
For those who were denied funding, the question has to be asked: would they not hire someone for their views on abortion?
The fact is we have laws regarding abortion and women have reproductive rights in this country, so if an employer is not hiring someone because they believe abortion should be a choice for women, that is discrimination.
The reason this received so much attention is that the Conservative party protested the inclusion of the attestation in funding requests to the government.
This has painted the attestation in a negative light without looking at the reason behind it: ending discrimination in the workplace.
In 2013, the Canadian Human Rights Commission received 1,236 potential complaints regarding discrimination in Canada.
Out of those potential cases, the top three reasons for discrimination were mental or physical disability, at 55 per cent; sex, or gender, at 17 per cent; and national and ethnic origin at 16 per cent.
If we are talking about discrimination, let us talk about all forms of discrimination and how discrimination can be looked at many different ways.