National Newswatch

OTTAWA — Federal officials have rejected requests from more than 1,500 organizations for funding through the government's premier summer jobs program, a 12-fold increase since the Liberals added new criteria for funding that have drawn the ire of faith-based groups.

Last year, the government rejected 126 applications for a variety of reasons, such as not meeting funding requirements or missing details on their forms.

This year, officials have rejected 1,561 applications for the same reasons, but also for objecting to the wording of a new declaration that required jobs to be funded, as well as the main activities of groups themselves, to respect reproductive rights.

The government said it added the requirement in response to concerns officials heard that funding through the popular jobs program had gone towards paying for students to protest outside abortion clinics or create and distribute graphic anti-abortion pamphlets.

The Tories are trying to put political heat on the government over the decision during debate today in the House of Commons, hoping to press the Liberals into backing down from the policy.

Labour Minister Patty Hajdu says young people are counting on the government to stand up for their rights and ensure the program funds groups that respect the rights of all Canadians.

She says the government still believes it is on track to fund some 70,000 student jobs this summer, since the number of eligible applications her department received is almost identical to last year.

The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press
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