Leader, as I ask my first question to you in your capacity as Government Representative in the Senate, I wish to add my congratulatory remarks to you and your team. I have had a chance to meet with Senator Gagné already at scroll meetings. She has come into the meeting and really led from the beginning. Congratulations on that.
My question to you as Government Leader in the Senate is: The employer application period for this year’s Canada Summer Jobs program was finally launched last Thursday after weeks after delays. It will close on February 24, giving employers just three and a half weeks to apply. This government has not provided an explanation as to why the call for applications was delayed. Perhaps it has to do with the many different changes imposed on the program by this government. A briefing note recently released under the Access to Information Act showed a massive increase in requests from department officials to employers for clarification on their application, from 2,000 requests in 2018 to 12,000 requests last year.
My first question is a short one. In 2017, 2018 and again last year, the deadline for employer applications was extended. Senator Gold, given the confusion surrounding the program and the late start, will your government extend the application deadline again this year?
Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate)
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Thank you for your question. I will make inquiries and report back to you.
This year, the government has changed the priority areas that will be considered for funding, dropping organizations that give experience in the skilled trades and those that provide services to seniors. It is unfortunate that many organizations that do good and necessary work in these areas will now be at a disadvantage in receiving support under the Canada Summer Jobs program.
Leader, could you please tell us why the government cut both the skilled trades and the services to seniors as priority areas under the Canada Summer Jobs program? Could you also please tell us if any consultations were undertaken prior to this decision, especially with those groups that would be most impacted?
Thank you again for your question. Obviously, these are important questions that affect not only businesses and workers but the entire economy and our society. I don’t want to make light of this in my answer. I don’t have the answers to the questions that you asked. I will undertake to find them as quickly as possible. They are important. Although this sounds more like a question period than an answer period today, as compared to yesterday, I assure you that I’ll do my best to get the answers to this chamber as quickly as I can.