The church is called to be rooted in the love of Christ in all its relationships. The gospel mandate to love, under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit, sets the highest standard for our interactions with one another (Leading with Care). Abuse is a form of behavior that ignores the will and agency of a person and harms the intended target. Abusive behavior and harassment must not be tolerated within the church, and allegations are taken seriously. Exploitation is a form of abuse where one party benefits from the oppression of someone else (e.g., forced work). This page deals with church statements and resources that deal with abuse and exploitation.

Acknowledging that abuse can happen within the church, The Presbyterian Church in Canada has policies to promote safety and prevention, and to deal with abuse when it arises. These policies include Leading With Care, Policy and Procedures for Addressing Harassment, and Policy for Dealing with Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harassment.

Content caution and seeking help:

This page contains information dealing with abuse. If you need support here are some resources:
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
Hope for Wellness, for Indigenous people in crisis: 1-855-242-3310
Trans Lifeline provides peer support for trans people: 1-877-330-6366
Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566
Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse provides contact information for regional helplines:

Domestic violence

Domestic violence can happen to anyone: it may be directed toward intimate partners, children, elders or any other member of a family group or household. Harm can take the form of physical abuse (slapping, shoving, hitting, kicking, etc.), sexual abuse, emotional abuse (belittling, harassing, intimidation), spiritual abuse, financial abuse or neglect. In all cases, the perpetrator is concerned with controlling and dominating a person without regard for their agency. Many forms of systemic injustice can increase someone’s vulnerability to experiences of abuse.

If you have experienced abuse, know that it is not your fault. Nothing excuses violence or abuse. Help and support are available (see the crisis support numbers above).

Church statements and advocacy regarding domestic violence

2022: Given that the lack of affordable housing is a critical barrier for those seeking to leave violence at home, the General Assembly encouraged congregations and presbyteries to advocate for: increased priority access to housing for victims of domestic violence; short-term financial assistance for victims of domestic violence so that they can access safe housing; help for municipalities to tackle wait-lists and capacity issues for affordable housing; promotion of services that are trauma-informed, victim-centered, and culturally appropriate for those experiencing domestic violence, including shelters, housing, counselling and legal advice. (A&P 2022, pp. 178-179)

2021: General Assembly adopted a report on Domestic Violence and Vulnerability , drawing attention to groups of people who are particularly vulnerable including: Children, Women, Indigenous people, LGBTQQI2S+ people and Elders. Church communities and leaders can:

  • Talk about domestic violence in sermons, small groups and church literature, acknowledging that domestic violence exists in all communities, including churches and letting those experiencing domestic violence know that there is help available.
  • Ensure that church leaders and elders know what expectations and responsibilities in the disclosure of different kinds of domestic violence (e.g., children, adult, older people) are, especially in reference to the church’s Leading with Care Policy and responsibilities.
  • Provide opportunities for learning about forms of abuse, violence and appropriate ways to respond if someone discloses experiences of domestic violence.
  • Know what services are available in your community and be ready to connect those who come forward with those supports, as needed. (A&P 2021, pp. 424-427).

1994: One portion of a report on sexuality, adopted by General Assembly, affirms that marriage does not legitimate forced sexual intercourse. Non-consensual sexual intercourse within marriage is still rape. (A&P 1994, p. 261)

1979: The Church acknowledges that violence exists in the home, including the homes of church people, and that the church has a role in improving family life which can help decrease the incidence of such violence. A study paper called “Violence in the Home” was prepared by the Board of Congregational Life and was encouraged for use as a study document by the 1979 General Assembly. That paper concluded, “Violence needs to be seen by spouses as intolerable.” (, A&P 1979, p. 274)

Exploitation of Migrant Workers

People who are Migrant workers are a part of Canadian and global communities and should be treated with respect and dignity irrespective of their legal status in a country. (A&P 2007, pp. 278-80) Migrant workers and their families are vulnerable to exploitation and human rights violations and are in need of greater protection in host and transit countries. (A&P 2007, pp. 278-80)

Principles that General Assembly has endorsed on the rights of migrant workers

  • The church has advocated that the Government of Canada adopt and ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and also ratify the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Domestic Workers Convention No. 189 (establishing worldwide standards and protections for domestic workers). (A&P 2019, p. 29, 292-294; A&P 2021, pp. 329-334, 40) The Presbyterian Church in Canada has advocated that the federal government in Canada develop pathways to permanent residence for migrant workers. (A&P 2019, p. 29, 292-294.)

Church statements and advocacy regarding the exploitation of migrant workers

2021: The church advocated that the Government of Canada sign and ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and that it ratifies the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Domestic Workers Convention No. 189 (establishing worldwide standards and protections for domestic workers). (A&P 2021, pp. 329-334, 40)

2019: The General Assembly approved a recommendation advocating that the Government of Canada provide fairer treatment for workers under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program; ensure consistency in the quality of the treatment of migrant workers within all provinces and territories; develop pathways to permanent residence for migrant workers; and re-consider signing and ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. (A&P 2019, p. 29, 292-294.)

2007: General Assembly urged the Government of Canada to sign the International Convention of the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. Congregations were encouraged to use fair trade products as one tangible response to an unjust global order that forces many people to migrate. (A&P 2007, p. 278-280)

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery, and the church opposes human enslavement. (A&P 2021, pp. 334-339, 40)

Church statements and advocacy regarding human trafficking

2021: The church encouraged the Government of Canada to implement its National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking; sessions and individuals were invited to do the same. Congregations were encouraged to learn more about human trafficking, including about how to recognize and report it. (A&P 2021, pp. 334-339, 40)

2010: The church urged the Government of Canada to develop and implement a national strategy to combat human trafficking (specifically in the sex trade). (A&P 2010, p. 606, 26)