Jobs pro­gram re­worked by feds

Lethbridge Herald - - BUSINESS & AG NEWS - Jor­dan Press THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — OT­TAWA

Con­tentious word­ing in Ot­tawa’s sum­mer-jobs pro­gram that re­quired groups to de­clare them­selves sup­port­ive of abor­tion rights to get fund­ing has been dropped, and new rules put in place to ap­pease faith groups and pro-choice ad­vo­cates who each fu­elled a furor over the pol­icy last year.

In­stead, the fed­eral Lib­er­als have re­tooled the 2019 ver­sion of the Canada Sum­mer Jobs pro­gram to re­quire ap­pli­cants to de­clare they don’t work to in­fringe on any Cana­dian’s le­gal rights.

The pro­gram sub­si­dizes wages for sum­mer work­ers, to en­cour­age small busi­nesses and non-prof­its to bring on stu­dents and oth­ers look­ing for early ex­pe­ri­ence. Word­ing on the ap­pli­ca­tion for the 2018 ver­sion of the pro­gram re­quired groups to say nei­ther their core man­dates nor the jobs be­ing funded ac­tively worked to un­der­mine con­sti­tu­tional, hu­man and re­pro­duc­tive rights.

In­for­mal con­sul­ta­tions over the past few months led to the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to change the word­ing for the 2019 ver­sion of the pro­gram.

“It still achieves the same aim of en­sur­ing that groups that are pri­mar­ily against hu­man rights, like anti-choice groups, are not go­ing to be el­i­gi­ble for fund­ing still, and it ap­pears to sat­isfy the con­cerns of re­li­gious groups and churches,” said Joyce Arthur, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Abor­tion Rights Coali­tion of Canada.

More changes have been made to the pro­gram’s el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria to dis­qual­ify any project or job that tries to re­strict a woman’s abil­ity to ac­cess sex­ual or re­pro­duc­tive health ser­vices, or that won’t hire peo­ple based on their sex, re­li­gion, race, eth­nic ori­gin, gen­der iden­tity or gen­der ex­pres­sion.

Ray Pen­ning, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of Car­dus — a non-par­ti­san, faith-based think-tank — said ques­tions will likely still be raised of the dec­la­ra­tion if it sim­ply says groups will fol­low the law, which all em­ploy­ers are re­quired to do al­ready.

“Any em­ployer is sub­ject to hu­man­rights codes,” Pen­ning said. “To have an em­ployer check a box — seems a lit­tle silly.”

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