From the founding of our nation to the present era, religion in Canada has changed, and continues to change. While, historically, Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Aboriginal peoples have had a tremendous influence in shaping Canadian culture and public policy, today there is a sharp tendency to see religion as a strictly private issue. That is not to say that religion is less important to Canadians - indeed, statistics on religion show otherwise - but rather that the difference is evident in the prominence and recognition afforded to religion in public life.
The majority of Canadian institutions established through religious enterprise are now publicly funded and accessible to all citizens; schools, hospitals, universities, social welfare programs, addiction and treatment centres, and many other organizations fall into this category. While religion may have inspired and informed these places, today they operate as secular programs dedicated to sustaining or improving the quality of life for all Canadians. Moreover, the protection of religious freedom established in the Canadian Charter as well as policy and law related to multiculturalism have transformed Canadian society by reducing the authority and influence historically enjoyed by the Christian churches in Canada and creating space for a wide diversity of approaches to religious thought and practice.