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Since the announcement of the suspension of its activities, the Board of Directors of the Centre Justice et Foi has been concentrating on the strategic reflection surrounding its future.

However, in view of the increasing number of public statements made by a group of employees who have been temporarily laid off, and the allegations they have made, the facts need to be set straight.

Making a difficult decision with dignity

First of all, we would like to point out that at no time was the Board’s decision to wipe the slate clean by forcing the team to resign in order to relaunch the Centre Justice et Foi in a watered-down version, as reported in the last article in Présence magazine.

On the contrary, the Board of Directors has taken a number of steps that completely contradict this assertion.

From the outset, the CJF Board of Directors decided to maintain the group insurance coverage permitted and to assume the entire group insurance premiums, i.e. the employee and employer portions.

In addition, the Board has taken steps to amend the Supplementary Unemployment Benefit Program with Service Canada to include temporary work stoppage. This will enable employees who are currently receiving employment insurance benefits to receive weekly pay of 95% of their usual salary.

Although some employees have chosen to criticise this decision publicly, it is an action taken in good faith. No employee or partner had requested it.

Preparing for the future: setting the record straight

But above all, the last few months have been characterised by the progress of work on the broad directions for the future of the CJF.

The Board of Directors has held several extraordinary meetings in addition to its usual ones, holding numerous discussions with various long-standing partners and hiring consultants to assist with the strategic thinking process.

Contrary to what has been stated in this letter, we have told CJF employees that they will have a role to play in the strategic review currently underway. That said, while we recognise their considerable experience and expertise, and their essential contribution to this major undertaking, it is first and foremost the responsibility of a Board of Directors to set the framework within which an institution’s activities can be conducted responsibly. This corresponds to the perspective of the Jesuit Constitutions, which assign to governance the creation of a space in which those who carry out the mission can exercise their own discernment about the means to be deployed to accomplish the mission. Once this crucial stage has been completed, employees will be called upon to collaborate at the appropriate time, and it is up to the Board and its senior management to determine when this will be.

The CJF recognises the legitimacy of the feelings of the authors of this letter towards the Board of Directors. However, the CJF notes that they have also chosen to attack the CJF’s Executive Director, in the public arena, by stating the following:

“Let’s remember that she, who is still on probation, has only been in post since June 2023 (not counting a 3-month absence), and has no roots in the Jesuit and Ignatian world. How can we fail to feel that our expertise is not being respected, when we see that Jesuits feel obliged to publicly show their support for a new management team which, it is said, has a “vision” and “ideas” – of which we know nothing – and which, obviously, needs our sidelining in order to impose itself? All this raises many questions.”

It is unacceptable that the people behind this letter, which is unsigned, should make such a gratuitous attack on a woman who is dedicated, competent and, above all, not the cause of the temporary suspension of activities.

Furthermore, the perfectly legitimate feelings caused by the current situation cannot under any circumstances justify damaging the CJF’s reputation, and even less so sending hostile emails to the Executive Director and certain members of the Board, whose tone and comments are totally inappropriate.

Finally, the CJF would like to set the record straight on a number of other points raised in the letter:

  • The temporary lay-off of employees is indeed temporary, and in no way constitutes the “constructive dismissal” referred to in the letter;
  • The real reasons behind the temporary suspension of the Centre’s activities were clearly explained from the outset to employees, partners and the public. In summary, the CJF’s mission has been developed over many years and is God’s work; we fully support it and it is in no way being called into question. The current discernment is how to achieve this mission given the CJF’s limited financial and operational resources. Contrary to what has been said in the past, this decision is not politically motivated.

The Board of Directors firmly believes in the mission of the Centre Justice et Foi and intends to continue its activities with those who are willing to cooperate in good faith at the appropriate time. The CJF remains committed to participation, to the fundamental practices of the Society of Jesus, and to the integration of diverse perspectives to achieve shared understanding and commitment.

 

Members of the Board of Directors of the Centre Justice et Foi and the Jesuits of Canada

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