Every year, the federal government funds student work opportunities through the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program. This funding supports small businesses and non-profits while simultaneously providing youth with valuable work experience. Every year, I visit each organization that received funding in Cambridge to speak with students and managers about their experiences with the program, and how we can improve it.
This year, changes were made to the application process to prevent an issue we’ve observed in the past. Some groups have used tax dollars to advance their political goals; using the funds for protests, lobbying, and working to restrict the rights of other Canadians. While the federal government has always funded non-profit community organizations, it does not offer funds to support agendas. Groups are free to use their own funds for political goals, but it is inappropriate to permit the use of taxpayer dollars for these activities. The 2018 application required that groups attest their organization and its core mandate respects Canadians’ rights, and not use taxpayer funds to advance their political goals.
There has been a great amount of misinformation circulated about how this program works — some spread for political purposes. I want to clearly correct the record in case you’ve seen some of this information online.
Some information being circulated states that organizations could not apply if they hold certain values – this is not true. This information was spread to imply that groups holding certain beliefs would not be funded. Not only would that be impossible, it would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The same Charter that protects the rights of women and minorities also protects your right to disagree, and anyone may hold their own personal convictions and receive CSJ funding. The attestation did not refer to anyone’s personal beliefs, but sought to ensure the job and core mandate of the organization didn’t work to restrict the actions of other Canadians.
A motion was introduced in the House of Commons on this issue by the Conservatives and on March 19th, I voted against it. The motion was put forward to make it seem as though all religious organizations were excluded from this program, when nothing could be further from the truth.
The motion called for something that the government is already doing – providing funding to non-political community organizations and businesses. The government is not restricting funding for religious organizations, homeless shelters, or any other community organizations based on the beliefs they hold. The Opposition knows this. They also know that motions can have no effect in law, and could have no effect on the program.
Many faith-based organizations applied to this program, and many of these organizations in Cambridge and North Dumfries will be receiving funding, as they have for years. The funding will be announced in the coming weeks, and I am looking forward to another year of providing valuable work experiences to the participating students.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please call my office at (519) 624-7440, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to speak with constituents to discuss what’s going on in Ottawa, and how we’re improving programs like Canada Summer Jobs.
All my best,
Bryan May, MP