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Island Health open to continued funding of faith-based care beds

Religious groups, including those who refuse to provide medical assistance in dying, are eligible for public funding to provide new long-term care beds in the Comox Valley.

Vancouver Island Health Authority has been looking to expand the number of care beds in Comox Valley for the past two years. On March 9, Island Health released a request for proposal (RFP) for companies to bid on 120 new beds. The RFP is open to all non-profit, for-profit, faith-based and secular providers.

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Humanists join letter in support of decriminalizing sex work

The BC Humanist Association joined over 100 organizations and individuals in signing a letter calling for the decriminalization of sex work in Canada.

The letter, coordinated by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform, calls on delegates to the Liberal Party of Canada's upcoming convention to support a resolution to repeal the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.

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BC Budget continues faith school giveaway

Humanists are disappointed that today's provincial budget continues the multimillion dollar giveaway to independent faith schools across the province.

Budget 2018 estimates that independent schools across BC will receive over $425 million in public funding for 2018/19.

Independent schools across BC can qualify for up to 50% of the per-student funding as neighbouring public schools. The majority of independent schools that receive this funding are religious. 

These include schools that "teach creation in science class", prioritize students on the basis of whether they can speak in tongues and ones that discriminate against LGBTQ2+ families.

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O Canada becomes more inclusive

The BC Humanist Association welcomes news that Canada's national anthem is now officially gender neutral.

The Senate passed bill C-210 yesterday, officially changing the line "in all thy sons command" to "in all of us command." The bill now awaits Royal Assent before becoming law.

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Humanists support Canada Summer Job funding requirement

The BC Humanist Association has launched a petition in support of new application requirements for the Government of Canada's Canada Summer Jobs program.

The program provides wage subsidies to employers to hire high school and post-secondary students. The new policy requires applicants to attest that neither the job nor the employer's "core mandate" are contrary to human rights, including reproductive rights and the rights of transgender Canadians.

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City of Vancouver urged to ban homophobic conversion therapy

The BC Humanist Association urges the City of Vancouver to adopt a recommendation from the City's LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee to prohibit "conversion therapy" within the city.

According to Xtra, the committee's recommendation passed unanimously in November and calls for the city to amend a licensing bylaw to prohibit any services that "purport to alter an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity."

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Blasphemy repeal bill moves to Senate

Canada's blasphemy law is one step closer to being repealed after MPs in the House of Commons agreed to pass Bill C-51 at third reading on Monday.

The bill makes a number of amendments to the Criminal Code, including repealing the prohibition on blasphemous libel. The BC Humanist Association and other freethought and secular groups across Canada have been calling for its repeal, including 7400 Canadians who signed a Parliamentary e-petition last year.

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Government report calls for "modern, efficient and effective" Human Rights Commission

The BC Humanist Association welcomes the 25 recommendations made in a report on creating a new BC Human Rights Commission.

Parliamentary Secretary Ravi Kahlon presented his report to the Attorney General for the new Commission on December 10, Human Rights Day. The report follows online and in person consultations, including submissions from over 500 individuals and almost 70 organizations. The BC Humanist Association attended in person consultations and submitted a written response. We also collected over 1000 signatures calling for "nonreligion" to be added as a protected class in the BC Human Rights Code.

Kahlon writes:

The general consensus is that the new commission must be modern, efficient and effective. It should educate the public about human rights, promote equality, awareness and respect, and address systemic abuse. It should also complement not replace the current work of the BC Human Rights Tribunal and Human Rights Clinic. I have heard British Columbians say that B.C. should aspire to be the human rights leader by adopting innovative practices to ensure that individuals, no matter where they live, have equal access to justice and to the supports they need to turn human rights ideals into reality.

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Humanists argue against religious law school at Supreme Court of Canada

On November 30 and December 1 the Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments over whether law societies must recognize evangelical Trinity Western University’s proposed law school. The BC Humanist Association was there.

TWU's Community Covenant excludes sexual intimacy outside a heterosexual marriage. As such, the case has been framed as pitting religious freedom against LGBTQ equality or in terms of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, whether law societies must prioritize sections 2a (freedom of religion) or section 15 (equality).

In our first intervention at the Court, our lawyers, Wes McMillan and Kaitlyn Meyer from Hakemi & Ridgedale LLP, built on fellow interveners from the United Church of Canada and the Faith, Fealty & Creed Society to argue that organizations should not be able to claim religious rights under Canadian law.

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1000 for protecting nonreligious rights

The BC Humanist Association today submitted its response to the Government of BC's consultation on re-establishing the province's Human Rights Commission. As part of that brief, we pointed to the 1000 people who've signed our petition calling for "nonreligion" to be made a protected class in the Human Rights Code.

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