Tory MP accuses Liberals of turning Canada's summer jobs program into partisan initiative
OTTAWA -- The Conservative critic for the ministry responsible for overseeing the Canada summer jobs program says the Trudeau government has shifted the mandate of the initiative to reflect Liberal Party interests.
"This program operated without any controversy for many years and unfortunately the government has turned the program which is supposed to do one thing – provide job experience for young people – into where they are setting and scoring where their ideological allies will perform better," said MP Dan Albas in an interview with CTVNews.ca
Each year the government identifies national priorities which guide the selection process for non-profit, public, or private sector employees registering for government subsidies to hire people between the ages of 15 and 30 over the summer months.
This year, the environment is a key focus for the program which launched last Thursday. Under the guidelines, employers will score higher if they have an objective of "protecting and conserving" the environment and gain more points if their organizational activities are tied directly to lowering carbon emissions.
"One of our government’s priorities is to seek out employers who offer jobs in sectors and industries that are linked to protecting and conserving our environment and helping transition to a low carbon emission economy," said a spokesperson for Carla Qualtrough, the minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion in a statement to CTVNews.ca.
Other national priorities include: groups who "intend to hire youth who self-identify as being part of underrepresented groups;" organizations that provide support to people with disabilities; opportunities for youth in rural or remote areas; and opportunities in small businesses.
An additional check-list of local priorities is also included.
Among the list of criteria making an employer ineligible to apply to the program are "partisan political activities."
During the federal election campaign, climate change was weighed as a political, partisan issue as not all political leaders running were in agreeance about its validity. Because of this, some environmental groups were required to register as third-party advertisers.
In response to this, Qualtrough’s office said, "Fighting climate change and protecting our environment is not a political issue. We look forward to working together with Members of Parliament of all parties, and communities across the country on important environmental issues."
The Liberals ran into issues in 2018 when they included a specific addendum to the application process, requiring prospective employers to confirm that neither their core mandate nor the jobs being offered came up against constitutional, human, or reproductive rights – including abortion, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
This caused outrage from faith-based groups, some with pro-life mandates, which were denied entrance to the program because of their beliefs. In 2019, the Liberals tweaked the rules to say only organizations whose core principles conflicted with Canadians legal rights would be ineligible.
"We’ve seen so much mucking around with the Canada summer jobs program to make it more ideological in nature, where certain groups couldn’t apply because the government’s own rationale and goals," said Albas.
He added that the directive of the program is to help young people get experience for their future, "not for the future of the Liberal Party."