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WE Charity cancels WE Day activities for ‘foreseeable future’ after grant controversy

‘I‘m sincerely sorry’: Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE contract talks
WATCH: ‘I‘m sincerely sorry’: Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE contract talks

WE Charity is cancelling its WE Day activities for the “foreseeable future” to prioritize its international work.

“WE Charity will return to its roots, prioritizing our international development work,” the organization said in a press release Wednesday. “International development is where we began, and it is where the need for our services is greatest.”

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The charity cited “the realities of COVID-19” as its reasoning for cancelling all of its WE Day activities, which they said have welcomed over 1.5 million students since their inception 25 years ago.

Read more: Trudeau, Morneau apologize for not recusing themselves from WE contract talks

The news comes following the suspension of its $900 million volunteer program with the Canadian federal government.

WE Charity also announced it would be undergoing a formal organizational review, which will be led by management consulting firm Korn Ferry.

“The purpose of the review is to streamline the WE organizational structure, including evaluating the future of ME to WE, with the goal of a clearer separation of the social enterprise from the charitable entities,” they said.

The charitable organization will also be hiring a Chief Risk and Compliance Officer as part of its review, which will be tasked with overseeing all of WE Charity’s risk management, regulatory, and governance compliance.

Ex-ethics commissioner talks Trudeau, WE Charity controversy
Ex-ethics commissioner talks Trudeau, WE Charity controversy

David Onley, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, will also be joining the organization as an executive advisor to provide counsel to help implement recommendations made by Korn Ferry.

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WE Charity has made headlines over the last several weeks, since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government would be outsourcing the $900-million Canada Student Service Grant program to WE, raising ethics concerns from opposing parties.

Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion is investigating Trudeau for a potential conflict of interest after he failed to recuse himself from a decision to award a $900-million student-aid program to WE — even though his mother, brother and wife received a combined $283,400 for a number of appearances at the organization’s events.

Read more: Trudeau, Morneau apologize for not recusing themselves from WE contract talks

On Monday, Trudeau apologized for failing to recuse himself from the WE contract talks, saying he “made a mistake.”

“I’m sorry that I didn’t — particularly sorry, because not only has it created unnecessary controversy and issues, it also means that young people who are facing a difficult time right now getting summer jobs, contributing to their communities, are going to have to wait a little longer before getting those opportunities to serve. And that’s frustrating,” he told reporters.

-With files from Global News’ Hannah Jackson and The Canadian Press