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Canadians call for preserved charity status for crisis pregnancy centres

Government’s pledge to revoke charity status may apply much more broadly

Craig Macartney Spur Ottawa Writer

The Liberal government has committed to revoke the charity status of what they call “anti-choice organizations”. In response, Campaign Life Coalition launched two petitions (one paper based and the other online) asking the government to preserve the charity status of pro-life organizations. Standing on Parliament Hill, on November 24, they presented more than 15,000 signatures to three members of Parliament.

“Without charitable tax status, many crisis pregnancy centres will face financial hardship,” states David Cooke, the national campaign manager for Campaign Life Coalition. “Some may have to close their doors for good, hurting the women and families who depend on their services. Many centres may also be forced to start paying thousands of dollars in property tax on their buildings, which could literally tax them out of existence.”

Many people, however, are concerned that the government’s goal reaches far beyond targeting crisis pregnancy centres. Cooke asserts that the initiative will target all explicitly pro-life organizations. Rick Harper, executive director of First Place Options (an Ottawa crisis pregnancy centre) raises a bigger fear.

“It calls into question if this is part of a larger hidden agenda by the government.”

“The wording on the loss of charitable status is very similar to a Canadian Abortions Rights Group that stated they want to strip pregnancy centres of their charitable rights first, and then do the same to Christian Churches,” he says. “By virtue of adopting similar wording in their platform, it calls into question if this is part of a larger hidden agenda by the government.”

“Canadians do not want to politicize charitable status,” states Arnold Viersen, who accepted the petition along with his fellow members of Parliament, Cathay Wagantall and Leslyn Lewis. “No charitable organization should face being stripped of their status because their values don’t line up to the Liberal values test.”

The pandemic has only heightened the need. First Place Options reports the number of women contacting them for help has more than doubled since before COVID. Revoking their charity status would diminish their ability to support clients by providing clothing, diapers, wipes, and other essential support.

“I do not agree with this prime minister pre-determining who can get what kind of help when they are simply seeking support to carry their children to term,” says MP Wagantall.

“If we truly love the people who need legitimate help, it will be easy to speak up and say it is not acceptable for the government to try to take away the ability for people to get legitimate help.”

“Too often, women find themselves in a position where they feel that the circumstances of life are pushing them to make a decision they don’t want to make,” states MP Lewis. “When an organization, like a pregnancy care center, comes alongside them to provide supports, that serves to empower women to live the life they want and to support real choice, for them and their family.”

While accepting the petition, Lewis issued an invitation for the Prime Minister to visit a crisis pregnancy centre in her riding, so see “the amazing work they do to support women and families and healthy communities”.

In fact, according to Pregnancy Care Canada, centres across the country provided essential supplies to more than 7,000 women in crisis and offered post-abortive counselling to more than 600 women last year.

Cooke and Harper are challenging Christians to speak out on behalf of these vulnerable women.

“If we truly love the people who need legitimate help, it will be easy to speak up and say it is not acceptable for the government to try to take away the ability for people to get legitimate help,” says Harper. He adds that they also need “people to get involved, particularly in spreading the word about the help and support we give to the community.”

Cooke adds, “It is impossible to overstate the value of these organizations.”

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