PMO announces changes to the Summer Jobs program that get lost in midst of Christmas season – and troubling ethics contravention – watchdog, Mary Dawson releases report

PMO announces changes to the Summer Jobs program that get lost in midst of Christmas season – and troubling ethics contravention – watchdog, Mary Dawson releases report

Prime Minister Trudeau is in some hot water this Christmas as Ethics watchdog Mary Dawson concluded her investigation into the Trudeaus’ Christmas 2016 vacation with family – and – friends – to the Ismali leader, Aga Khan’s private Bahama island. Among other breaches, Dawson’s report concluded:

  • Failing to arrange his private affairs to avoid being in conflict of interest;
  • Accepting the gift of accommodations on the private island, by someone who is registered to lobby his office;
  • Travelling on non-commercial aircraft charted by the Aga Khan; and
  • Not recusing himself from discussions that provided an opportunity to further the Aga Khan’s interests.

Trudeau told reporters he “is sorry,” and that he takes, “full responsibility for it – we need to make sure that the office of the prime minister is without reproach.”

But the Ethics scandal is overshadowing an announcement from the government about the Summer Jobs program – as new policy changes slip under the radar during the Christmas season.

Changes to Canada’s Summer Jobs program include rules for employers who can qualify for funding to hire students. Specifically, in order to hire – both students and employers will have to sign a document – or in legal terms, an attestation saying they support LBGTQ and abortion groups. They say this is to ensure organizations that don’t support these groups, will not get funding.

The government says the new changes are to boost support for groups offering services to the LGBTQ and pro-abortion communities, as well more opportunities for women in engineering, math, and Indigenous Canadians, and new immigrants.

Public Relations consultant and Liberal supporter, Nancy Coldham believes the idea is, “Reflective of the move to a gendered lens approach to public policy with the lens being feminist and consistent with the Charter and previous Supreme Court decisions.”

Alberto Polizogopoulos would not agree. The Ottawa based lawyer says, “Applicants will have to sign the attestation saying they support these groups. This can exclude organizations from getting funding if they care not to comment or take a stance on such a subject. This by extension will exclude particular religious organizations from receiving funding. This is a clear violation of freedom of expression, conscience, and religion.” Mr. Polizogopoulos says he thinks this new policy will be challenged, but the question is, “When and how.”

Context spoke with the office of Liberal MP Karina Gould, they told us, “Having a summer job provides young people in Burlington – and across Canada – the opportunity to gain work experience, contribute to their communities, and earn money for the upcoming school year. While I was pursuing post-secondary education, I had the opportunity to work in a diverse range of summer jobs in the private and public sector – that helped me learn skills and gain invaluable experience that would shape my future career. Since our government was elected in 2015, we have doubled the number of jobs available to young people, which is good news for students, employers, and members of the middle class. I’m pleased that the Government of Canada is helping young Canadians obtain meaningful work experience, whether that be with not-for-profits, faith-based organizations, small businesses, or public-sector employers.”

The conflict in this is that some non-profit and religious organizations that receive funding for the jobs program don’t necessarily adhere to the government’s push on LGTBQ and pro-abortion initiatives, or, at least, in the way that the government is forcefully pushing these initiatives through, and say that a proper process is needed to hear debate and conversation on all sides.

We continue to follow this story.  With files from Lydia McGeorge.

For more information, see John Stackhouse’s story at:


UPDATE – CONTEXT received the following via email on Friday December 22 at 4:44 p.m. from Employment and Social Development Canada:

As in previous years, churches, religious groups and faith-based organizations are encouraged, welcome and eligible to apply. Canada Summer Jobs welcomes applications from small businesses, not-for-profit employers and public sector organizations that provide quality summer jobs for students. The application period runs from December 19, 2017 to February 2, 2018.

As stated in the Applicant Guide for CSJ 2018 : “That an organization is affiliated with a religion does not itself constitute ineligibility for this program.” Applicants are not asked to provide their views, beliefs or values as these are not taken into consideration during application for the program.

It is not a new requirement for applicants to outline their organization’s mandate and the key activities of the proposed job. Specifically, the core mandate is the main activities undertaken by the organization, including the provision of services in the community. Similarly, applicants have always been required to provide a description of the roles and the responsibilities of the job to be funded by the Canada Summer Jobs Program. As stated in the Applicant Guide, the job must be approved by Service Canada. This, too, is not a new requirement.

Faith-based groups are required to meet the same eligibility criteria as any applicant to CSJ 2018. CSJ applicants will be required to attest that both the job and the organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights.

An organization’s mandate is a statement of its main purpose or its reason for existence. The key activities undertaken by the organization, including services provided to the community outline how the mandate is fulfilled.

For many not-for-profits and religious organizations, their mandate may be similar to the description of “ongoing programs” that they provide to the Canada Revenue Agency at tax time.

The employer attestation for CSJ 2018 is consistent with individual human rights in Canada, Charter rights and case law, and the Government of Canada’s commitment to human rights, which include women’s rights and women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of gender-diverse and transgender Canadians.

Through the attestation, we are ensuring that applicants are both aware of the new eligibility requirement for the CSJ program and comply with it.

This change helps to ensure that youth job opportunities funded by the Government of Canada take place in an environment that respects the rights of all Canadians. It also ensures that federal funding supports employment opportunities that respect existing laws, including human rights law and labour law, to which public, private and not-for-profit organizations are already subject.

The Department will rely on applicants to attest their eligibility for the new requirement through the attestation contained in their application. The provision of false and misleading information would affect the eligibility and funding may be revoked.”

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