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Crisis Pregnancy Centres in Danger of Losing Charitable Status

Federal Liberal Government doubles-down on commitment to remove charitable status from “anti-abortion” organizations

Crisis Pregnancy Centres in danger of losing charitable status

Federal Liberal Government doubles-down on commitment to remove charitable status from “anti-abortion” organizations

As a part of their 2021 Federal Election campaign, the Liberal Party of Canada made as one of their top priorities protecting Canadians’ “Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.” They promised that a re-elected Liberal government would, “No longer provide charity status to anti-abortion organizations (for example, Crisis Pregnancy Centres) that provide dishonest counseling to women about their rights and about the options available to them at all stages of the pregnancy.”

Undoubtedly, this caused significant concern among pregnancy care providers across the country. Crisis centres may face loss of charitable status if the Federal Government deems them as “anti-abortion”, or if they are accused of providing “dishonest counselling”. David Cooke, campaigns manager for Campaign Life Coalition, said in a November 2021 interview that, “scores of Crisis Pregnancy Centres and hundreds of pro-life groups across this country will be at risk of closure.” Cooke added, “Without charitable status, Crisis Pregnancy Centres could be literally taxed out of existence, especially those located in Canada’s downtown urban centres – where many women in crisis are located.”

While that threat has been looming over crisis pregnancy centres for over a year, no legal action has been initiated. This has led some to question the sincerity of the Liberal Party’s platform promises, such as Leah Gazan, an NDP MP from Winnipeg Centre in Manitoba. During the debates in a December 2nd, 2022 House of Commons Session, Gazan asked, “With regard to the commitment in the Liberal Party’s 2021 election platform to no longer provide charitable status to anti-abortion organizations, such as crisis pregnancy centres, what consultation processes has the government established to define an anti-abortion organization?”

The Liberal Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, responded, “Mr. Speaker, the Income Tax Act does not define the concept of charity but relies on the common law definition. Under the common law, charitable purposes fall under one of four categories: relief of poverty, advancement of education, advancement of religion, and other purposes beneficial to the community in a way the courts have determined to be charitable, for example, the protection of the environment or the promotion of health.” It is these criteria, and how Crisis Pregnancy Centres do not meet them, that will bring about the revoking of their charitable status.

However, many Pregnancy Care Centres meet at least one, if not all for of these criteria, according to Elizabeth Sacrey from the Kingston Pregnancy Care Centre (KPCC). They are a registered charity that has focused on relief of poverty. “Stats show that single mothers are more likely to be in poverty. So if we can offer them support to help them through that, we can help them to come out of poverty,” Sacrey said. She continued, “We offer material assistance, clothing, diapers, formula, all that kind of stuff to help someone who is low-income, to give them extra supplies that they need.” She added, “Even the emotional support we offer through relationships can help to give someone the skills and confidence to help them come out of poverty.”

Sacrey, who has been with the Kingston Pregnancy Care Centre for 15 years, has served as the Executive Director since 2015. She believes the KPCC does more than just help the relief of poverty. Regarding the advancement of education, Sacrey affirmed, “And then the education piece. Education helps to relieve poverty, because the more you know then the better you’re able to help yourself. Our education comes through prenatal classes, parenting classes, courses for dads.”

The KPCC, the only other Pregnancy Care Centre in Kingston, Ontario beside the Catholic-run “Birthright”, is uniquely able to help support pregnant and single mothers, and 2022 has been a record year for them in terms of the number of mothers they have served. “Our numbers have increased 60% over last year,” Sacrey said, adding, “So far (in 2022) we have had 471 client visits.” When asked about why the surge in clients, Sacrey said, “I think that the growth comes from the climate we are living in. There is a lot of fear coming out of the pandemic and COVID. People need more support and have more questions when there’s that fear. Coming to a place like ours where they can get answers to their questions and emotional support that they need through relationships – that’s needed.”

Sacrey was pleased to add, “The number of known live births is 11 this year so far, that we know of. There are many who come in and they don’t come back, or they don’t let us know.” She continued, “We’ve heard stories from people years later, when after their initial visit were undecided… come in 3 years, 4 years later, saying I decided to keep, and here is a picture of my child. There could be many more that we just don’t know about.”

During the December 2nd House of Commons Session, after defining the qualifications of what makes a registered charity, Liberal Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland added, “All registered charities are required to ensure that the information that they provide is accurate and evidence-based, and are prohibited from disseminating information that is false or misleading. Our government remains committed to no longer provide charity status to anti-abortion organizations that provide dishonest counselling to women about their rights and about the options available to them at all stages of a pregnancy.”

When asked to respond to these statements and whether or not the Kingston Pregnancy Care Centre provides accurate and evidence-based information to women, Sacrey said quite strongly, “Absolutely. All the information we give, all of the booklets we give out have been researched and fact-checked by numerous medical professionals. We don’t give any information out that is not accurate.”

Sacrey also revealed the truth that losing charitable status is about more than issuing tax receipts; the consequences on Pregnancy Care Centres is quite dire. “If you lose your charity status, you are forced to dissolve the charity. That means we would be forced to liquidate all of our assets and give them to another charity. Essentially our charity would no longer exist. If we lose charity status, we lose everything,” Sacrey said.

The Kingston Pregnancy Care Centre reached out to their Member of Parliament regarding the future of the charitable status of the KPCC. Mark Gerretsen, Liberal MP for Kingston and the Islands, responded to Sacrey and the KPCC by saying, “If the Kingston Pregnancy Care Centre is confident that they provide accurate, judgement-free, and evidence-based information/services to their clients than their eligibility status would not be affected by potential amendments.”

Sacrey is concerned, as are many Canadians, that once Pregnancy Care Centres have their charitable status revoked, it won’t be long until other organizations, such as local churches, will also fall within the sights of the Federal Government. And if losing charitable status means dissolving the organization and liquidating all of their assets, churches should be concerned.

In 2018 Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Government withheld summer grant funding from organizations who could not explicitly affirm the government’s pro-abortion stance, and other aspects of the late sexual revolution. “Individual human rights are respected when an organization’s primary activities, and the job responsibilities, do not seek to remove or actively undermine these existing rights.” Among those criteria – Promoting LGBT initiatives and not affirming the right to safe and legal abortions. It appears that what began in 2018 is now becoming more of a reality in Canada. With a Liberal-NDP coalition ensuring the Federal Government can legislate how it pleases until 2025, Christians who do not meet the Liberal Party’s “criteria” should expect more of the same.

2 Ibid.


4 Ibid.


 6 Ibid.

 7 Ibid.


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About the author

Andrew is the Teaching Elder at Encounter Church in Kingston, Ontario. He is also the co-host of the Liberty Dispatch podcast. He holds a Bachelor of Religious Education from Tyndale University.