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Bioethics institute turned down for Canada Summer Jobs funding

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  • July 11, 2019

OTTAWA -- The deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research is the latest non-profit or charity to be refused a Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) grant on abortion-related grounds.

The institute was told its request to fund six summer jobs for students was denied because the employment was determined to “actively work to undermine or restrict a woman’s access to sexual and reproductive health services.”

“We were surprised,” said the institute’s research co-director and executive director Simon Czajkowski. “We appealed the decision and we weren’t offered any additional information on why the request was refused.

“We did not mention anything of this sort in our application for funding,” he said. “The government had to peek around, do their own research outside of the application that was submitted and form their own false narrative about what activities we engaged in as a research organization.”

The institute is considering taking legal action, but is observing the outcome of cases already before the federal court, he said. “Right now, the focus is to try to make up the shortfall through donations so we are able to hire at least one summer student over the summer break.”  

The CSJ’s funding application was changed in December after widespread protests from faith groups and other organizations which refused to check the attestation box endorsing Charter and other rights, including abortion. Some of the controversial wording was removed in the new attestation but it still made it clear that groups which “actively work to undermine or restrict a woman’s access to sexual and reproductive health services” would be ineligible for funding.

There are about eight requests for judicial review of the CSJ pro-abortion attestation for 2018 and several more for refusals based on the amended attestation of 2019. No court dates have been set.

Czajkowski stressed deVeber is a research organization that does not engage in any advocacy. “While we provide empirical and objective evidence on some of the effects abortion has on women, it’s one research focus among many others we engage in,” he said.

Czajkowski said the institute does not take a position on what the government’s policy should be on reproductive rights. “We were not offered any explanation on how we possibly violated the Trudeau government’s pre-requisite for funding.”

The institute is currently working on an online encyclopedia on bioethics as well as genetic editing, research on access to health care, organizational ethics and the philosophical basis for bioethics as an individual field of study, Czajkowski said.

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