Rate of denials for summer jobs funding higher in Conservative ridings
OTTAWA – Organizations in Conservative ridings had disproportionately more Canada Summer Job funding applications rejected for funding in 2018 due to their response to the Liberals' hotly contested values attestation newly released documents show.
According to numbers recently tabled in the House of Commons, Liberal-held ridings experienced the largest overall number of applications rejected on account of being "incomplete" and deemed "ineligible" according to the government’s evaluation. However, a CTV News analysis of the data shows that when you adjust the results to take into account the average number of these rejected applications per riding, the rate of rejections was higher in Conservative ridings than in Liberal-held ridings.
On average, Conservative ridings averaged 6.5 rejections, while Liberal ridings averaged 4.1 rejections per riding.
These results were tabled in Parliament on the request of Conservative MP Karen Vecchio, who asked for the government to—via an Order Paper Question— present the total number of applications “rejected” on the basis of "issues with the attestation."
The results however, speak to the number of funding applications deemed “incomplete” which, according to the minister’s office is different than being "rejected."
According to the minister's office, ineligible applications do not go forward, and are ultimately denied the chance for funding. To them, rejected applications are when an MP—who gets a say in determining where the money allocated for their riding ends up-- turns down the funding pitch.
The federal government came under fire after announcing late last year that groups who wanted to apply for funding would be required to have grant recipients sign an attestation that confirmed the job being funded, and the group’s core mandate would both align with the Canadian Charter of Rights. The initial response was prompted by concerns and reporting on summer job funding going towards anti-abortion groups, or organizations that wouldn't hire LGBTQ youth.
The wording made organizations vow to uphold human rights, including "reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression."
Conservatives and New Democrats both vocally opposed the move as an imposition on free speech. It was also heavily criticized by religious groups and small businesses owners, including some who have advanced legal challenges.
The Canadian Press reported earlier this year that the government received more than 41,000 eligible applications, and that overall rejections were up 12-fold from 2017. Among the ways organizations have registered their disagreement with the attestation: crossing out wording on the form, or attaching a letter spelling out their objection.
Here's how the total 1,558 rejections broke down:
- Liberal: 742
- Conservative: 645
- NDP: 159
- Green: 5
- Bloc Quebecois: 3
- Independent: 4
There were 33 ridings that had 10 or more rejected applications for Canada Summer Jobs funding on the basis of the attestation. Of these, 18 are represented by Conservative MPs.
The five ridings that had the most rejections are:
- Conservative MP Ted Falk’s Provencher, Man. riding, which had 23 rejections;
- Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant’s Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, Ont. riding, which had 21 rejections;
- Conservative MP Mark Warawa’s Langley-Aldergrove, B.C. Riding, which had 19 rejections;
- Conservative MP Dean Allison’s Niagara West, Ont. riding, which had 18 rejections; and
- Liberal MP Pat Finnigan’s Miramichi-Grand Lake, N.B. riding, which had 17 rejections.
Of note, the two Liberal MPs who spoke out against the attestation: Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont. MP John McKay, and Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame, N.L. MP Scott Simms had six and eight rejections in their ridings, respectively.
The deadline for the 2018 grants was due by February 9, so for the purpose of analysis the results were tabulated based on the House of Commons' party standings at that time.
Across the country, the applications resulted in 82,461 jobs being approved for funding.
When asked to explain what the reasoning might be for Conservative ridings averaging a higher number of rejections – and, given the most overall rejections happened in Liberal-held ridings, what feedback she's received from her caucus colleagues -- a spokesperson for Employment Minister Patty Hajdu's office said the minister is continuing to collect feedback on the program and "is looking forward to another great year ahead of providing nearly 70,000 young Canadians with summer work experience."
Speaking with CTV News in the House of Commons foyer, Hajdu said the Canada Summer Jobs 2018 applications were "highly politicized" and accused Conservative MPs of creating fear and confusion for organizations. She said that faith-based groups across the country who understood it was about their activities -- and not their values -- did receive funding.
On CTV's Power Play, Vecchio agreed that the process had been politicized but placed the blame for that on the shoulders of the government. She said that at the end of the day it meant over 1,500 jobs weren’t created for summer students.
Defending the government, Liberal MP Marco Mendicino called it a "pretty good ratio" of jobs granted to jobs denied. "This is not a partisan program. Every MP can apply, every MP got funding," he said.
"This process was really flawed. The announcement of the attestation was really a shock to people… it just led to a lot of confusion," said NDP MP Rachel Blaney. "This is just a boondoggle of a lot of misinformation."
With files from CTV News' Senior Political Correspondent Glen McGregor