May 26, 2018

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No regrets over Canada Summer Jobs changes: labour minister

Hajdu in Winnipeg on Tuesday to put spotlight on program

Justin Tang / The Canadian Press FILES</p><p>Labour Minister Patty Hajdu says the Liberals ‘take concerns of faith-based groups seriously.’</p></p>

Justin Tang / The Canadian Press FILES

Labour Minister Patty Hajdu says the Liberals ‘take concerns of faith-based groups seriously.’

OTTAWA — Federal Labour Minister Patty Hajdu says she has no regrets over the imbroglio surrounding the Canada Summer Jobs program, which she’ll be highlighting today in Winnipeg.

The Liberals added a “values attestation” to the CSJ program last fall, requiring groups receiving funding to confirm their “core mandate” respects charter values, including “reproductive rights” and not discriminating based on “sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The changes led to a twelvefold increase in rejections under the program, including Winnipeg churches that have cut back on summer camps. The changes continue to rile up socially conservative groups, with a national poll released Tuesday by the Angus Reid Institute showing a 50/50 split over whether the changes were fair.

“We take the concerns of faith-based groups seriously,” Hajdu said in a Monday interview. “We also want to make sure whatever we do next year to reach that same policy goal doesn’t result in any confusion.”

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OTTAWA — Federal Labour Minister Patty Hajdu says she has no regrets over the imbroglio surrounding the Canada Summer Jobs program, which she’ll be highlighting today in Winnipeg.

The Liberals added a "values attestation" to the CSJ program last fall, requiring groups receiving funding to confirm their "core mandate" respects charter values, including "reproductive rights" and not discriminating based on "sexual orientation or gender identity."

The changes led to a twelvefold increase in rejections under the program, including Winnipeg churches that have cut back on summer camps. The changes continue to rile up socially conservative groups, with a national poll released Tuesday by the Angus Reid Institute showing a 50/50 split over whether the changes were fair.

"We take the concerns of faith-based groups seriously," Hajdu said in a Monday interview. "We also want to make sure whatever we do next year to reach that same policy goal doesn’t result in any confusion."

Today she’ll be visiting a Winnipeg daycare, community centre and St. Boniface business hub to drum up interest in the CSJ program, which funds work terms for students to gain resumé lines while helping paying off their tuition.

"It provides that hands-on job experience that we think is critical for young people," Hajdu said, adding it can help students plot a career path — including if they ought to change course.

MPs, including those in opposition parties, have a say in which groups get CSJ funding, in the hopes the placements reflect regional issues and include minorities.

The federal Liberals have doubled the number of CSJ jobs that were offered in 2015, which Hajdu argues can top up the length of employment the private sector provides, or help non-profits with their mandates.

That brought some controversy in April, when the group Dogwood B.C. used the program for an administration position to help "stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project."

Hajdu, who will be highlighting the CSJ program today beside Energy Minister Jim Carr (Winnipeg South Centre), said that shows room for disagreement, unless it involves charter rights.

"This is a government that supports perspectives that are perhaps in opposition to the ones that it holds," Hajdu said. "Canadians have the right to speak loudly about whatever it is that they believe."

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 7:58 AM CDT: Adds sidebar, updates with poll info

11:27 AM: removes reference to mosque-run summer camps

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