Yesterday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau introduced the 2017 federal budget. While members of our community will have diverse opinions on the government’s overall plan, one element in particular stands out: the doubling of funds allocated to the Communities At-Risk Security Infrastructure Program (SIP).
The SIP is a crucial program that many synagogues, day schools, and JCCs have depended upon to make essential upgrades to security systems. Yesterday, an additional $5 million was earmarked for the SIP over the next five years. This funding increase builds on the changes to the SIP eligibility criteria and scope that were implemented earlier this year, and is a further testament to the advocacy impact of our community.
Thousands of Jewish Canadians sent emails to Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale through CIJA’s Action Alert platform to encourage the modernization of the SIP. While some crucial changes have already been made, there remain a number of areas in which additional resources can be transformative, ensuring the SIP better responds to evolving security challenges facing at-risk communities like our own.
This announcement builds on our community’s tremendous success in advocating for Parliament to pass Bill S-201 to ban genetic discrimination, after more than 8,000 community members mobilized to take 20,000+ actions – including emails, phone calls and social media posts – to urge parliamentarians to pass this crucial legislation.
While I am pleased to note that we expect the bill to pass through the Senate and be enacted without delay, the government has declared its intent to refer the new law to the Supreme Court for an opinion on its constitutionality. This could place protections against genetic discrimination in limbo.
Once it is confirmed that the government will refer Bill S-201 to the Supreme Court, CIJA will partner with the Canadian Coalition for Genetic Fairness in seeking intervener status before the Court in order to defend the law. We will also press forward with provincial campaigns to ensure complementary legislation is enacted across the country, ensuring every Canadian is protected from genetic discrimination no matter where one works or lives.
One such initiative is Bill 30 in Ontario, where CIJA recently had a provincial lobby day in which hundreds of community leaders and volunteers went to Queen’s Park. In addition to advocating for provincial protection from genetic discrimination, participants also raised antisemitism, our community’s security needs, poverty reduction and affordable housing with more than 50 Members of Provincial Parliament.
SIP funding, genetic discrimination legislation and a wildly successful community lobby day. When we unite and mobilize as one, we can make a tremendous impact and achieve great things. But our work together is just getting started. We need your continued engagement and support to advance the public policy interests of Canada’s vibrant Jewish community.
That’s why I am asking you to reach out to five friends and ask them to sign up to stay engaged.
If everyone reaches out to five friends, we can grow our movement and build our strength exponentially. Together, we can make a huge difference for the Jewish community and all Canadians.
David J. Cape, Chair
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs