May 15, 2018 6:11 pm
Updated: May 16, 2018 9:14 am

Canadians split on summer jobs program funding controversy

A group of high school girls work at completing an exercise during a Girls Who Code class at Adobe Systems in San Jose, Calif.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg
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CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the scope of the Summer Jobs attestation. 

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An Angus Reid poll released Tuesday suggests Canadians are evenly split in their support for the federal government’s plan to require employers that receive funding through the Summer Jobs Program attest the job respects Canadian constitutional rights, including reproductive rights.

The poll was released the same day hiring began for the program, which Patty Hajdu, the Federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Labour, said will provide jobs for some 1,700 young people in Winnipeg alone.

The Summer Jobs Program provides subsidies to a variety of small businesses, including those that hire youth or support minority communities, among other things.

However, the program has been surrounded by controversy this year, ever since employers have been required to attest their support for reproductive rights in order to receive funding.

READ MORE: Documents shed light on how Liberals came up with controversial Canada Summer Jobs attestation

Religious groups have said they are being disproportionately affected.

Hajdu said the changes were made after her department received complaints young people were being hired to promote anti-abortion agendas, including distributing brochures with graphic photos of aborted fetuses.

“Quite frankly, that’s not a quality job, nor is it respectful of the rights Canadians have,” Hajdu said.

“We wanted to make sure that when young people get these jobs, they’re with organizations that are going to respect their rights and ensure they’re not asked to undermine the rights of other Canadians.”

The Angus Reid poll indicated 73 per cent of Canadians support funding pro-life groups when the money is unrelated to anti-abortion advocacy.

That number drops to 37 per cent if the funding will be going to pro-life groups but will also be used to promote such a stance.

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