Canada Summer Jobs applications open with new rules cracking down on discrimination

Zohra Surani, 21, left and Melinda Cuffy, 23, pour over job listings at the Summer Jobs Services Centre at 511 Richmond Street West in downtown Toronto. Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Applications are now open for employers looking to apply for federal cash to hire young workers for the summer and as Global News reported last week, groups applying will now be vetted to make sure they do not plan to use federal funds to discriminate or violate human rights in Canada.

The 2018 Canada Summer Jobs program will be the first to require applicants to sign an attestation stating that their organization’s mandate and the job they are applying for grants to fund both respect the rights of Canadians under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

READ MORE: Canada Summer Jobs program will no longer fund anti-abortion, anti-gay groups

“To be eligible, applicants will have 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,” reads a PowerPoint presentation created to brief MPs on the new changes and shared with Global News.

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“These include 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.”

The Supreme Court has ruled that restricting access to abortion violates the right to life, liberty and security of the person laid out under Section 7 of the Charter.

The right to be free from discrimination is listed under Section 15, which also states that “governments must not discriminate on any of these grounds in its laws or programs.”

READ MORE: Government looking to shut down summer job grants for anti-abortion groups

The move to require applicants to sign an attestation came after reports by this reporter that the federal government had approved tens of thousands of dollars that went to anti-abortion groups in two ridings, one of which was held by a Liberal.

Liberal MPs ran under the pro-choice banner of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and news in April that groups in the Mississauga-Erin riding of Liberal MP Iqra Khalid got $56,000 in federal funds through the Canada Summer Jobs program last year prompted Employment Minister Patty Hajdu to ban anti-abortion groups in Liberal-held ridings from getting money under the 2017 program.

In August 2017, a similar report found that anti-abortion groups in the riding of Rachael Harder, the Conservatives’ then-newly appointed status of women critic and Lethbridge MP, had received close to $12,000 in the same grants in 2016.

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Officials said in April that Hajdu planned to introduce wider changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program itself to prevent such groups in any ridings from accessing federal funds through the program, and the decision to require an attestation from employers is aimed at filling that gap in the program that allowed anti-abortion groups and others that advocate for discrimination or restriction of established rights to not be able to use federal funds to do so.

The program makes no changes to their ability to continue regular day-to-day operations but rather targets the voluntary applications they make by applying for funding through the program.

The change also has no effect on a group’s charitable status.

Service Canada officials will assess the applications made before Feb. 2 along with MPs and announce in April which groups will receive funding.

The Canada Summer Jobs program is a federal program that allows not-for-profit organizations to get funding to cover up to 100 per cent of the cost of hiring Canadians between the ages of 15 and 30 for temporary, full-time summer work.

Public-sector and private-sector employers can get funding to cover up to 50 per cent of those costs through the program.

MPs play a large role in determining local priorities and validating the lists of recommended projects drawn up and sent to them for validation by Service Canada.

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Those lists have historically been based on what was funded the year before.

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