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The Liberal government is extending the deadline for applications for the Summer Jobs program by one week, but it will not remove a controversial clause requiring applicants to sign an attestation on abortion and LGBT rights.

This week a group of religious leaders called the attestation form “fascist” and “pure discrimination,” but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau staunchly defended the new form.

Labour Minister Patty Hajdu announced the extension in a news release today, giving employers until Feb. 9 to submit their applications.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to give work experience to energetic, enthusiastic students, and to keep our economy growing. I invite all employers who haven’t yet done so to apply today to get support to hire students this summer,” she said.

There were extensions to the deadline in 2016 and 2017 as well, and there was a spike in applications during the extra week.

The extension also gives MPs a chance to do a final push with not-for-profits, faith-based groups and small businesses in their ridings.

But there will be no change of course on the requirement for applicants to sign the attestation, even if they include a written explanation for it.

No signing, no funding

“Groups that do not sign the attestation will not be considered for funding,” Matt Pascuzzo, a spokesman for Hajdu, told CBC News.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau again defended the policy at a town hall in Nanaimo, B.C. Friday, when a young participant asked why the government is imposing a “values morality test.”

He said it does not target faith groups helping those in need but rather organizations that have the “explicit mandate and purpose” of trying to exclude LGBT persons or fight women’s reproductive rights by distributing pamphlets of aborted fetuses.

“There is nothing about this that goes to beliefs or values,” he said.

‘Steady stream’ of complaints

Conservative Saskatchewan MP David Anderson said his office has received a “steady stream” of complaints about the new requirement.

“It’s not just faith groups … it’s municipal government as well, saying ‘We’re just not comfortable with this,'” he said.

Anderson said he will be asking constituent groups to report on which applications are approved and which are rejected.

Conservative MP and former cabinet minister Tony Clement called it a “values test” and wondered if the charitable status of some groups could soon be at stake.

“Under Justin Trudeau’s values test, if you don’t agree with the ideological positions of the Liberal Party, your organization will no longer be eligible to receive funding for a summer student,” he wrote in a post on his website. 

“I am concerned for the students who won’t find work as a result of this decision. Individuals who hold private convictions may, for example, no longer be able to help care for the disabled, refugees, or provide day camp for children in need.”

Supporting national priorities

Hajdu’s news release said applicants can receive funding to support local priorities and those that complement “this year’s national priorities,” which include:

  • Employers who intend to hire youth in underrepresented groups, including new immigrant youth and refugees, Indigenous youth, youth with disabilities and visible minorities.
  • Small businesses that help create jobs. 
  • Organizations that support opportunities for official language minority communities.
  • Organizations that provide services or supports to the LGBT community.
  • Organizations that provide jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Information and Communications Technology (ICT), particularly for women.

CBC | Canada News

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