BY BOB ZIMMER
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP
After last year’s Canada Summer Jobs Program debacle that required all organizations applying for funding to submit to a Liberal values test, I know many local organizations have been wondering what this year’s application process will bring.
Last year, as a result of this values test, more than 1,500 Canada Summer Jobs applications were rejected, up from 126 rejections in 2017. Hundreds of other organizations withdrew their applications or did not apply at all because their personal beliefs prevented them from signing the attestation. I know many local organizations struggled with their decision about whether or not to apply.
In December, the Liberal government announced that they would be suspending the values test on the 2019 Canada Summer Jobs Program. This change is no doubt thanks to the strong public outcry that followed last year’s inclusion of the attestation.
The new application does not ask about the ‘core mandate’ of an organization. Instead, any project or job that “actively work to undermine or restrict a woman’s access to sexual and reproductive health services” or that “advocate intolerance, discrimination and/or prejudice” is listed as ineligible.
While this change has been welcomed by some organizations, it can also be seen as nothing more than a desperate attempt at damage control during an election year. Some faith-based groups have also said that they still have concerns. This includes the Catholic Civil Rights League, which responded to the 2019 changes by stating that “the minister’s new demands continue a suppression of viewpoints not shared by the government, for which funding will continue to be denied to groups that disagree.”
I believe strongly that a values test has no place in our federal funding programs and that organizations should not have to agree with the ideological positions of the Liberal Party to get government funding. I will be watching how this change will affect our local organizations closely. If any one who is applying for funding has any concerns about these changes, please feel free to contact my office.
For organizations that are interested in applying for the Canada Summer Jobs Program, I would encourage you to do so quickly. The deadline to submit an application is January 25, 2019.
More information can be found at: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/canada-summer-jobs.html.