Statscan to spend $172-million over five years to improve how it captures data on race, gender, sexual orientation

Always good to have more and better data:

Canada’s national statistics agency will spend $172-million over five years improving the way that it captures data on race, gender and sexual orientation – a move aimed at filling long-standing gaps that have historically left the experiences of millions of Canadians invisible.

The funding, announced in the federal budget, is among the largest investments in a new initiative that the agency has seen in recent history, the country’s Chief Statistician Anil Arora told The Globe and Mail.

The plan is to expand existing research surveys with questions designed to paint a fuller picture of the population, Mr. Arora said.

Statistics Canada did this with its Labour Force Survey last year. Knowing that the economic fallout of the pandemic was affecting certain communities differently, the agency added questions about race, as well as working from home, job loss, capacity to meet financial obligations and applications to federal COVID-19 assistance programs.

“It’s not just about the average or what the ‘quote-unquote’ typical Canadian looks like,” said Mr. Arora, who is the head of Statistics Canada. “Canadians have been saying: ‘We want to see our diversity, as we see it in our society, reflected in our story – our statistics.’ … Better data, used responsibly, should lead to better outcomes.”

The census – which Canadians have been receiving in their mailboxes this week – does collect detailed demographic information, but it’s conducted only every five years. The goal, said Mr. Arora, is to incorporate more disaggregated data in other research projects.

The Globe has been chronicling the country’s data deficit for several years, examining its impact on businesses, citizens and government decisions.

This year, The Globe published an investigation called The Power Gap, which married dozens of publicly available datasets that had never before been linked to reveal how women working in the public service have struggled to advance past middle management. In the series, it was possible to assess the work force by gender, but not other indicators, such as race, because the information is not available.

(The Globe was able to determine the number of racialized women among the top 1 percentile of earners – it was about 3 per cent – by individually contacting and researching the backgrounds of hundreds of women in this bracket.)

In announcing the funding, the federal government acknowledged that the current system is inadequate.

“At present, Canada lacks the detailed statistical data that governments, public institutions, academics and advocates need in order to take fully informed policy actions and effectively address racial and social inequities,” the budget read.

“Journalists and researchers have long worked to tell the stories of where and why disparities in our society exist – whether among racialized groups or the power gap that exists between men and women that leads women’s careers to stall,” the document continued. “Better disaggregated data will mean that investigative efforts or research projects like this will have more and better data to analyze.”

Wendy Cukier, the founder and director of Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute, said she would like to see the federal statistics agency use the new resources to connect existing datasets. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of government agencies collect information on Canadians, but they exist as silos.

For example, regional development agencies distribute government funding to small businesses, but there is no easy way to measure how many jobs these loans and grants create or the extent to which certain groups have more access to this money. If the data could be cross-referenced with information from the Canada Revenue Agency, it would allow policy-makers to better determine the impact of the investments, she said.

“They’re all government agencies. Why are there not standardized reporting mechanisms around innovation and economic development? And ideally disaggregated, so we know which percentage is going to women, to Black-owned businesses,” Prof. Cukier said. “I would love to see Statistics Canada as the central repository.”

Mr. Arora said linking existing data is one of their key priorities and it’s something the agency has already been working on.

“We know that if you’ve got an issue in the justice system, when you go back and trace [it] there are issues of housing, there are issues of health and education,” he said. Within those records, there may be pieces about the individuals – such as whether they’re from a rural or urban community or whether they have a disability – that will make it possible to evaluate trends.

Sharing information between entities and across jurisdictions does raise privacy considerations, he said, but it can be addressed by stripping the information of names and replacing them with identifying numbers that would be consistent across datasets.

“Data isn’t going to miraculously make us inclusive, but it will help illuminate where the troubles and issues and gaps are,” Mr. Arora said. But he cautioned that there are always going to be holes in information.

“As soon as you understand something, you ask a better question. And once you ask that question, you need more data.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-statscan-to-spend-172-million-over-five-years-to-improve-how-it/

Confronting racial bias in government funding

Hard to balance these calls for greater flexibility and unrestricted funding with long-standing government accountability requirements:

The federal government has proclaimed itself committed to the pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion. The 2020 Treasury Board directive calls for an “equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace where no person is denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability or job requirements.” The federal budgeting process is supposed to use GBA+ analysis in decision-making. And yet, the government continues to ignore the entanglement of race in the organizations they fund. This has only served to disadvantage Black-focused, Black-led, and Black-serving (B3’s) organizations.

Recently, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), launched the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative (SBCCI) – a capacity-building funding program. B3’s from all regions of Canada, outside of Quebec, submitted applications in the desperate hope of securing funding. You see, the funding apparatus in Canada, including the philanthropic sector, leaves Black-led organizations and groups that serve primarily Black communities without support to operate at their full potential. A recent report by the Foundation for Black Communities outlined the “miniscule” amount of funding provided to B3s, and how that funding is “sporadic, unsustained, and does not invest in the long-term capabilities of Black community organizations.”

And so when an initiative emerges that lays claim to building the capacity of B3’s, there is a collective hallelujah throughout Black communities. However, for many applicants to the new ESDC funding program, shouts of hallelujah quickly turned into groans of frustration. Organizations such as Black Lives Matter, the Somali Center for Family Services in Ottawa, and Operation Black Vote Canada, disclosed through various media channels that they received emails from ESDC rejecting their applications for funding because “information provided…was insufficient to clearly demonstrate that the organization is led and governed by people who self-identify as Black.”

The grant application required all applicants to “describe the extent your organization is Black-led, serving or focused.” The aforementioned organizations and others easily satisfy this criterion (by a glance at their websites) – Black leadership and service to Black communities are at the core of their being.

Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen responded to the outcry stating that the initial communication sent to organizations like Operation Black Vote Canada was “completely unacceptable” and that his department “has implemented new measures” (details not publicly shared) to ensure such a “mistake” does not reoccur.

Was this a mistake? We will probably never know. What B3’s know with certitude is that when it comes to securing financial support from the government or other funding sources, it’s a vicious cycle. The organizations that tend to get funded are organizations that can demonstrate capacity and effectiveness. But how do organizations increase capacity in the first place? Of the millions of federal dollars in grant money we hear about in the news that are dispersed every year, only a small percentage reach Black communities and B3’s. The federal government should consider this a consequential failure on its part.

Black-focused, Black-led, and Black-serving organizations’ struggle has not been due to a lack of quality programming, ability, innovation, or dedication. They struggle due to a lack of funding and access to resources – funding to increase and strengthen their capacity and unrestricted dollars to operate at their full potential. (Unrestricted funding is not tied to any particular project or initiative, and can be used at the organization’s discretion.) The clientele served by B3’s is the constituency most impacted by injustice, and that regularly navigates multiple systems of oppression.

Further, leaders of B3’s have smaller budgets to work with compared to their white counterparts. Leading these organizations is not merely a job. It is their community. It is their life. And yet, the work they champion remains unfunded and under-resourced.  This leaves the issues and neighbourhoods they advocate for lingering in a perpetual state of community disadvantage.

For many B3’s, their experience with the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiativehas only exacerbated racial inequities and highlighted, yet again, the need for frank conversations about race and funding access.

There are four measurable steps the federal government can take now, to remove the barriers to equitable funding:

  • Explicitly acknowledge that broad change cannot happen without comprehending the reality that the grant-making process still operates in a system of inequity, making the journey to acquiring funding difficult to traverse for B3’s. Things that are not acknowledged remain unchanged.
  • Consult, engage, and convene B3’s in the design of funding programs and disbursement of funding dollars. This ensures an explicit eye toward inclusion and equity.
  • Design funding programs that take into account and provide financial support (e.g. seed funding) to B3’s at distinctly different points in their development.
  • Support B3’s with multi-year, unrestricted funding. This would provide an infusion of resources that would enable B3’s to address the needs prevalent in Black communities in a transformative way; increase organizational capacity and sustainability; and foster transparency and accountability between the government and organizations. This approach also prevents B3’s from being trapped in the annual application cycle.

Federal grant funding access and success are deeply entangled with inequities – stifling the success of B3’s and their ability to drive social change in the communities they serve. Black-focused, Black-led, and Black-serving organizations know that racial disparities matter. The mistakes made in the management of the SBCCI have elevated awareness. This must now lead to deliberate action.

Source: Confronting racial bias in government funding

University of Queensland student suspended for two years after speaking out on China ties

Outrageous and a reminder of accepting funding from the Chinese government, one that Canadian universities and institutions also face:

A student activist highly critical of the University of Queensland’s ties to Beijing has been handed a two-year suspension from the institution.

Drew Pavlou faced a disciplinary hearing on 20 May at the university over 11 allegations of misconduct, detailed in a confidential 186-page document, reportedly linked to his on-campus activism supporting Hong Kong and criticising the Chinese Communist Party.

The university ordered his suspension on Friday after the 20-year-old philosophy student reportedly left the previous hearing after about one hour, citing procedural unfairness.

UQ chancellor Peter Varghese said on Friday he was concerned with the outcome of the disciplinary action against Pavlou.

“There are aspects of the findings and the severity of the penalty which personally concern me,” Varghese said in a statement.

“In consultation with the vice chancellor, who has played no role in this disciplinary process, I have decided to convene an out-of-session meeting of UQ’s Senate next week to discuss the matter.”

The University of Queensland has faced media scrutiny for its relations with the Chinese government, which has co-funded four courses offered by the university.

The institution is also home to one of Australia’s many Confucius Institutes – Beijing-funded education centres some critics warn promote propaganda.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/may/29/university-of-queensland-student-suspended-for-two-years-after-speaking-out-on-china-ties?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Email

ICYMI: Australia – Multicultural programs get $71m investment

In contrast to some of the anti-immigrant language and more restrictive immigration policies:

The federal government is putting $71 million towards ensuring multiculturalism blossoms across Australia.

Immigration Minister David Coleman announced the scheme on Wednesday as part of the government’s migration plan.

The money will go towards various programs to “promote, encourage, celebrate multicultural Australia”, the minister said.

Religious tolerance education charity Together for Humanity, chaired by retired teacher and former Liberal Party president Chris McDiven, will receive $2.2 million.

“It is so important as a society that we are cognisant and accepting of our differences,” Mr Coleman told reporters in Canberra.

“Religious freedom is so fundamental to this nation.”

Mr Coleman said $10 million will be provided to community languages schools, with grants of up to $25,000 on offer to help young Australians connect with cultures.

“It helps to enable them to learn more about the culture that maybe their parents or grandparents have come from,” the minister said.

“Of course, there are other kids who learn languages that are not their background culture but also enable them to learn more about the diversity of our nation.”

Source: Multicultural programs get $71m investment

The Private Money Shaping Public Conversation About Restricting Immigration

In-depth analysis. Always helpful to follow the money:

For years, the think tanks and organizations that pushed for tougher immigration restrictions operated on the fringes of public policy debates. Now, with a powerful friend in the White House, they are enjoying new influence. Promises to build a wall along the United States-Mexico border were a popular refrain at then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign rallies. As president, he has remained committed to lowering immigration levels and has escalated efforts to secure funding for the wall, starting by shutting down the government, and now by declaring a national emergency.

Cheering Trump on, and often providing intellectual ammunition for his administration’s policies, are nonprofits like the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and NumbersUSA—all kept alive by philanthropic donations from a handful of foundations and donors.

Those organizations and others like them are not without controversy. The Center for Immigration Studies and Federation for American Immigration Reform are both designated as anti-immigrant hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, though the classification is rejected by supporters. NumbersUSA is not designated as a hate group by the watchdog, though several other, smaller groups working to restrict immigration are. The full list may be found here.

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, has also criticized the Center for Immigration Studies for releasing inaccurate research to advance its restrictionist agenda.

These think tanks depend on philanthropic donations for their survival. Donations made up 99 percent of revenue at both the Center for Immigration Studies and NumbersUSA in 2016. That year, they made up 96 percent of the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s revenue.

Many of those donations flow from a relatively small set of donors who’ve backed advocates and policymakers pushing for lower immigration levels over many years. These funders are finally seeing a return on their investment in a case study of the influence that can come from patiently backing policy work—so it’s worth taking a close look at their motivations and priorities.

Who Are These Funders and What Do They Want?

Foundations that give to organizations pushing to restrict immigration include the Colcom Foundation, the Scaife foundations, which include the Scaife Family Foundation and Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the Weeden Foundation.

The Colcom Foundation is the most prolific of this group. The Pennsylvania-based funder gave nearly $18 million to groups pushing for lower immigration in 2016, about 60 percent of the foundation’s total giving that year.

The foundation was established in the 1990s by Cordelia Scaife May. May was a friend of John Tanton, who was involved in several anti-immigration organizations, including Colcom grantees the Center for Immigration Control, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and NumbersUSA. Tanton was known for his controversial views about eugenics and the need to defend a “European-American majority” in the United States. Colcom and other foundations that give to organizations Tanton was involved in have tried to distance themselves from racial or nativist motivations. But his views continue to provide fodder to critics.

May was the sister of Richard Mellon Scaife, the conservative billionaire behind the Scaife Family Foundation and Sarah Scaife Foundation. All three foundations give to policy groups that push to lower immigration.

Education and shaping public discourse around immigration levels is a big focus of Scaife’s grants to organizations pushing to restrict immigration. While the goal of this funding is to lower immigration levels, representatives from the Colcom and Weeden foundations stressed to Inside Philanthropy that they don’t consider themselves anti-immigrant, or even anti-immigration, though they do want to restrict the number of foreigners coming into the country.

For the Colcom Foundation, cutting immigration by about half to around 500,000 people a year would be a good starting point, said Vice President John Rohe. As a foundation, the organization does not lobby for specific policy measures, rather it hopes to influence public opinion. Rohe believes this work is necessary because of the emotional tenor of debates about immigration.

“This is fundamentally important to a country because immigration has, over time, been an emotional issue for the United States, and it still is today,” said Rohe. “It’s difficult for the United States to have a meaningful, informed conversation on the level of immigration somewhere in the middle.”

Rather than emotions, Rohe believes concerns for the labor market and environment should inform the conversation around immigration levels. “What should the level of immigration be that preserves the carrying capacity and ensures a long-term, pro-immigrant, sustainable level of immigration? Which, by the way, should be administered on a racially neutral basis,” Rohe said. “There should be no room, zero tolerance, for racism in this policy.”

The environment comes up a lot with funders that support restricting immigration levels. They believe environmental sustainability is threatened by population growth fueled primarily through immigration.

“We currently have about 328 million people. You’re looking at almost a one-third increase in 50 years in a country that has biodiversity losses, that has 40 states confronting water shortages, that has trouble controlling the toxic emissions from cars and gridlock and energy in its cities, that is dealing with urban sprawl devouring millions of acres every year, and then you add 103 million people,” Rohe said, citing a 2015 Pew Research Center report that estimated immigrants and their children would account for more than 100 million people added to the U.S. population by 2065.

“Some would have a concern that adding another 103 million people in 50 years to a nation that’s already straining its water resources,” Rohe added. “Are our landfills too under-utilized? Are our roads too open? Is there too much farmland? Is there too much fresh water? Is the water too clean?”

The Weeden Foundation funds groups pushing for lower immigration for similar reasons, though immigration work makes up a much smaller percentage of the funder’s total giving. “Immigration is addressed in the context of U.S. population growth and its impact on the environment, particularly on habitat for wildlife,” said Don Weeden, the foundation’s executive director.

“It’s not a major effort for us, but we feel it’s important to address the drivers of biological impoverishment, and that includes the United States’ very high level of consumption and its relatively high population growth,” he said. “It’s a combination of both that’s really driving a combination of unsustainable trends, including sprawl, energy use, CO2 emissions and pollution generally.”

Not everyone agrees that overpopulation is or will in the near future be a problem in the U.S. In fact, some economists argue that immigration is needed, given falling birth rates.

As the country’s birth rate declines and population ages, some economists, like Lyman Stone, a columnist for Vox and an agricultural economist at the Department of Agriculture, argue that population growth and the contribution of immigration are not only desirable, but necessary for long-term prosperity.

Stone also argued in Vox that the role population growth plays in climate change, whether through birth rate or immigration, has been overhyped.

Groups advocating on behalf of immigrants have also objected to the foundations’ use of conservation as a justification for their work to curb immigration. Daranee Petsod, president of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, stressed that overpopulation is not an issue in the United States.

“The U.S. birth rate is at a 30-year low, and many economists believe that more immigration is needed,” Petsod said. “In parts of the country that are depopulating—from Rockford, Illinois, to Lancaster, Pennsylvania—mayors, business and civic leaders are actively seeking immigrants and refugees to help revitalize their communities.”

“It’s not valid to connect the two issues because limiting immigration does not advance conservation goals,” she said. “Anti-immigrant groups often hide behind the guise of conservation to promote their restrictionist agenda.”

The Numbers

Among the foundations, Colcom gives the most—both in dollar amounts and percentage of total grants—to groups working to restrict immigration.

With about $440 million in reported assets in 2015, the foundation also gives to groups that tackle conservation from other angles. Past giving has especially favored conservation efforts in the foundation’s native Pennsylvania.

However, the majority of grants each year—about 60 percent in 2016—go to groups that focus on immigration, rather than deal directly with the environment. The biggest beneficiaries of this strategy in 2016 were the Federation for American Immigration Reform with $7.4 million in grants, NumbersUSA with $6.8 million and the Center for Immigration Studies with $1.7 million.

The foundation also gave to Americans for Immigration Control, Californians for Population Stabilization, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, Negative Population Growth Inc. and Progressives for Immigration Reform.

Perhaps an even more telling sign of Colcom’s stature in the field is how much of the organizations’ annual revenues are dependent on the foundation’s donations.

For the Federation for American Immigration Reform, in 2016 Colcom grants made up about two-thirds of the think tank’s total revenue, and nearly 70 percent of contributions the organization received.

Colcom’s giving makes up a similar percentage of NumbersUSA’s revenue and total gifts. At the Center for Immigration Studies, Colcom’s giving hovers at just under 60 percent of the nonprofit’s revenue. For smaller organizations, Colcom can serve as an even more significant lifeline. The foundation’s donations made up about 97 percent of the Immigration Reform Law Institute’s funding in 2016.

The Weeden and Scaife foundations also give to support anti-immigration groups, but to a much smaller extent when compared to their overall grantmaking. In 2015, the Scaife Family Foundation gave about 7 percent, or $225,000, to organizations arguing for less immigration. That number was near 2 percent for the Sarah Scaife Foundation.

With its other giving, the Sarah Scaife Foundation carries on founder Richard Mellon Scaife’s support of conservative and libertarian causes. In 2015, the foundation supported the conservative think tanks the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation, along with George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, the free-market economics think tank and research center supported by Charles Koch.

The Scaife Family Foundation stands out from the others for its focus on the well-being of domestic animals. The foundation supports several organizations that work with cats, dogs and horses.

The Weeden Foundation typically gives 5 to 10 percent of its grantmaking dollars to organizations like the Center for Immigration Studies. In 2015, the foundation reported about $31 million in assets.

That year, about $165,000 out of the funder’s $2.2 million in grantmaking went to think tanks working to reduce immigration, including the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA, along with Californians for Population Stabilization, Negative Population Growth Inc. and Progressives for Immigration Reform.

With the rest of its giving, the Weeden Foundation supports environmental organizations, conservation efforts and other means to curbing population growth, including groups that advocate for reproductive rights.

The Colcom, Scaife and Weeden foundations are not the only funders supporting hardline immigration organizations, though most others give at much lower levels.

The F.M. Kirby Foundation, Jaquelin Hume Foundation, John M. Olin Foundation, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Philip M. McKenna Foundation, Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Weiler Foundation, and William H. Donner Foundation have also given to the Center for Immigration Studies, Federation for American Immigration Reform, or both, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a progressive nonprofit watchdog and advocacy organization. However, those donations were at much lower levels than the Colcom or Scaife foundations.

Of course, foundations are not the only avenues donors have to give to organizations. They can give as individuals or funnel money through donor-advised funds.

Money that comes from individuals or flows through donor-advised funds is harder to track than foundation giving. Like any philanthropy, donor-advised funds are required to disclose their grantees on publicly accessible tax forms, but they’re not required to share where that funding comes from. This anonymity can be attractive to donors who want to give to causes that they may feel are controversial.

The Foundation for the Carolinas, which hosts 2,600 donor-advised funds, is one major conduit of money to organizations pushing for immigration restriction. In 2016, the foundation gave around $4.3 million to such groups. In 2015, that number was about $4.8 million. NumbersUSA was the biggest recipient, racking up about $5 million in grants over two years. These gifts, none of which can be traced back to a specific funder, made up a relatively small percentage of the foundation’s total giving each of those years, which ranged from about $260 to $290 million.

Donors Trust is another donor-advised fund, known for its support of conservative causes. The fund has given some money to anti-immigration think tanks over the years, according to a database maintained by Conservative Transparency, which tracks donations to conservative causes and candidates. However, the amounts have never rivaled foundations like Colcom or even the Foundation for the Carolinas in size.

From 2002 to 2017, the trust gave a little more than $3 million to hardline immigration organizations. NumbersUSA was the biggest beneficiary of that giving, racking up $2.7 million over that 15-year period.

The Criticism

Philanthropic support of anti-immigration organizations has attracted intensifying criticism in recent years. “For decades, these foundations have financed anti-immigrant groups to spread a narrative that demonizes and dehumanizes immigrants. The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented statements and actions by many of these groups as being racist, bigoted and xenophobic,” said GCIR’s Petsod. “Their efforts to espouse fear and hate have divided our nation and have resulted in policies that are anathema to American values.”

As Petsod highlighted, several of the think tanks these foundations support are characterized as anti-immigrant hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). That includes two of the three most prominent organizations, the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

The SPLC and its designations are not without their own critics, especially on the right, which has accused the watchdog of inappropriately labeling groups it disagrees with as extremists.

Don Weeden sees the center’s hate group designations as another symptom of a national conversation that has deteriorated into name calling. In the past, the Weeden Foundation has given to Californians for Population Stabilization, the Center for Immigration Studies and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which are labeled as hate groups by the SPLC.

“I vouch for our grantees,” Weeden said.

“It’s a kangaroo court—that’s what the Southern Poverty Law Center is doing in labeling these groups ‘hate groups,’” he said. “In fact, it strikes me that there are those on the left—and I’m not saying everyone on the left—who have chosen to smear rather than debate. Perhaps you can say it’s easier, and in some respects more effective, but it has led in part to the polarization on this issue and the lack of national debate on this issue, as well.”

In fact, Weeden says that his foundation gets criticized from both sides of the aisle for the work it supports.

“We and our grantees get criticized on the right for being radical environmentalists. You turn it around and you get criticized from the left for being right-wing reactionaries. So where is the truth?” he said. “Well, it’s none of the above.”

“We don’t look at issues through a political lens. We look at them largely because our mission is to protect biodiversity. We look at it through that lens.”

Colcom’s Rohe echoed Weeden’s lament about the reluctance at informed, measured debate around immigration.

“This has been an emotionally charged issue, and the effort to have an informed, constructive, civic dialogue has been difficult for the country over the course of history,” he said. “Hopefully we can move beyond that.”

Rohe also denied that his foundation would have any part in supporting racism or organizations with racist agendas.

“It would not be funded by this foundation, but there could be people that would be drawn to this issue for the wrong reasons,” Rohe said. “I can’t apologize for that. The foundation would never support that.”

Source: The Private Money Shaping Public Conversation About Restricting Immigration

Funding religious schools: the majority of Canadians say at least some public dollars should be provided – Angus Reid

Suspect support would vary if questions were posed with respect to different religions as the 2007 Ontario election showed given concern in particular over Muslim schools:

Should religiously affiliated schools receive taxpayer dollars? And if so, what amount, and under what circumstances?

This ongoing debate in Canadian education – one complicated by the historical position of Catholic schools as a key provider of publicly funded education in many provinces – has been revived most recently in Saskatchewan, where legal challenges are underway to a court ruling that the provincial government cannot fund non-Catholic students’ attendance at the province’s Catholic schools.

Recent polling from the Angus Reid Institute – part of a year-long partnership with Faith in Canada 150 – finds Canadians more amenable than not to this particular intersection of church and state.

Asked a broad question about public funding of private, faith-based schools, six-in-ten Canadians (61%) say such institutions should either receive support equal to that enjoyed by public schools (31%), or at least some amount of government funding (30%).

More Key Findings:religious school funding canada

  • Those favouring partial funding were asked a follow-up question about roughly how much money religious schools should receive. More than half (51%) in this group say funds should be less than 50 per cent of what public schools get
  • Younger respondents – those ages 18-34 – are more likely than their elders to say public funds should be appropriated to religious schools (38% favour full funding, and 35% prefer partial)
  • Residents of the three provinces where separate, publicly funded Catholic school boards still operate – Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario – are more likely to support full funding than people in other parts of the country

How much funding should religious and faith-based schools receive?

As mentioned, six-in-ten Canadians (61%) say faith-based education should receive government funding, though they disagree about how much money religious schools should receive in comparison to the public system. Three-in-ten (31%) say faith-based education should receive government funding on par with public schools. Another three-in-ten (30%) say religious schools should get only partial funding, while the plurality (39%) say they should receive no public money at all.

Respondents who said religious schools should receive partial funding were asked how much money they would allocate to such institutions, relative to public school funding. Slightly more than half (51%) said they would provide less than 50 per cent of the amount public schools receive to religious schools, while one-in-five (20%) said they would provide more than 50 per cent of what public schools receive. The rest (29%) were unsure.

Taken together with those who would provide full funding or no funding at all, the group that would provide partial funding can be broken down as seen in the following graph.

religious school funding canada

Notable differences by region, age, and gender

Three provinces – Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario – currently provide separate streams of public funding for Catholic schools. These separate schools have their own publicly funded school boards, and have historically educated Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Given the prominent ongoing role of publicly funded religious schools in these three provinces, it’s perhaps not surprising that the three are the only regions above the national average in terms of the number of residents supporting full funding for religious education.

It’s worth noting, of course, that in no region of the country does a majority of the population reject all public funding for faith-based schools. Quebec – where the religious neutrality of the state is a recurring and salient political issue – comes closest, as seen in the following table:

Age and gender are also key drivers of opinion on this question, with men more likely to say religious schools should receive “no funding at all” and women more divided, as seen in the graph that follows.

Looking at responses by age, it becomes clear that those closest to their own school days view public spending on religious education most favourably. A plurality (38%) of those ages 18 – 34 say religious schools should receive full funding, while among older age groups “no funding at all” is the plurality choice:

religious school funding canada

One demographic characteristic that – perhaps surprisingly – doesn’t have much impact on responses to this question is whether a person has children living in their household or not.

Parents and guardians are only marginally more likely to favour full funding (33% do, compared to 30% of those without kids in their households – a difference that is not statistically significant). Likewise, people with children are no more or less likely to favour partial funding, nor are they more or less inclined to say this partial funding should be above 50 per cent. See summary tables at the end of this report for greater detail.

Via: http://angusreid.org/funding-religious-schools-majority-canadians-say-least-public-dollars-provided/

US Immigration Announces $10 Million Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Opportunities

Not yet cut by the Trump administration.

While Canada spends considerable on settlement services (primarily language along with some employment and orientation services), Canada does not dedicate funding for citizenship knowledge requirements preparation.

Given the greater difficulties faced by family class and refugees (see chart above), this may be a gap that the Government should consider filling when it rolls out its new citizenship study guide:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now accepting applications for two funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program.

These are competitive grant opportunities for organizations that prepare lawful permanent residents for naturalization and promote civic assimilation through increased knowledge of English, U.S. history and civics.

The two programs will provide up to $10 million in grants for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country. Applications are due by August 6.

USCIS wants to expand the availability of high-quality citizenship preparation services throughout the country with these two opportunities:

  • Citizenship instruction and naturalization application services: This opportunity will fund up to 36 organizations that offer both citizenship instruction and naturalization application services to lawful permanent residents.
  • Citizenship instruction only: This grant opportunity will assist nonprofit organizations in establishing new citizenship instruction programs or expanding the quality and reach of existing citizenship instruction programs. We expect to award up to 10 nonprofit organizations through this opportunity. In doing so, we want to encourage the expansion of the existing field of citizenship instruction programs, particularly those offered by small community-based organizations that have not previously received a grant from us.

USCIS expects to announce all 46 award recipients in September.

Since 2009, USCIS has awarded approximately $63 million through 308 grants to organizations that have provided citizenship preparation services to more than 170,000 permanent residents in 37 states and the District of Columbia.

To apply for this funding opportunity, visit grants.gov. For additional information on the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program for fiscal year 2017, visit uscis.gov/grants or email the USCIS Office of Citizenship at citizenshipgrantprogram@uscis.dhs.gov.

Foreign donations to foster extremist ideology fly under Canada’s radar

More on alleged foreign funding of fundamentalism, and the irony that these are from the same countries that are opposed to ISIS:

It has been widely suspected for years that wealthy Gulf Arabs from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar have been bankrolling conservative Wahhabi and Salafist institutions and teachings in western countries. The strict and puritanical interpretations of Islam have no direct links to terrorism. Still, security experts say the conservative ideologies offer fertile ground for individuals contemplating jihad.

Richard Fadden, the prime minister’s national security adviser, told the committee in April that money is coming into Canada to promote extremist ideology and much of it is going to religious institutions. That followed similar testimony to the committee by an imam who manages 13 mosques across the country.

“I think it’s fair to say, without commenting on the particular country of origin, there are monies coming into this country which are advocating this kind of approach to life,” said Fadden.

“A lot of these funds, I think, are directed to religious institutions or quasi-religious institutions. It’s very difficult in this country to start poking about, if you’ll forgive my English, religious institutions because of the respect that we have for freedom of religion.”

There are no restrictions on non-resident charitable donations coming into Canada, provided they are not from a banned terrorist organization. Most donations arrive by bank wires, which CRA does not have the ability to track because it does not have access to banking transactional records or money services business records.

Instead, non-resident gifts of more than $10,000 must be disclosed by the charities. Beyond that, however, Canada Revenue has no way of knowing how much of that money is directed to Islamic religious and educational programming.

“We know that that’s no ideal and we want to be able to collect better information and we’re looking at that actively now,” Hawara told the committee. (The agency is able to track foreign donations directed for political purposes and routinely audits the appropriateness of all charities’ activities and whether they support the organizations’ charitable objectives, among other things.)

The millions of dollars coming to Canada from wealthy Gulf states are for all sorts of purposes, including to support organizations that may ultimately be determined to be fronts for terrorist organizations, or affiliated with them, said Christine Duhaime, a leading expert on terrorist financing and money-laundering.

“It tends not to be funds directly sent to support overt acts of terrorism in large volumes (here). If we had that happening, terrorist groups in Canada would be more powerful and already causing damage to critical infrastructure. Yet, there is funding for so-called extremist purposes, including for terrorist propaganda.”

Foreign donations to foster extremist ideology fly under Canada’s radar | Ottawa Citizen.