Sure. No problem.
We delivered aid across the country and worked with hundreds of local charities.
On April 21 the government announced a $350-million fund that was programmed through three large partners to help the charitable sector. While this is a well-intentioned idea, it does have several drawbacks.
The first major drawback of having major partners program money on behalf of the government is that it creates what's called a double administration fee, because the partner that's programming the money takes an administration fee and the partner receiving the money takes an administration fee. Let's make an assumption—and if you read the detailed documents I've sent you, you'll see what I'm basing these assumptions on—that each party is taking 10%. That means that up to $70 million of the $350-million fund ends up as dead money in administration and is not converted into food or hygiene items or for shelter support.
I understand that sometimes governments will pay for speed and efficiency, and that's why they'll run programs like this, but if you take a very serious look at this project, you'll see that in this case speed has not occurred. Again, I've given you very detailed commentary from other partners. If you ask, as a committee, for a real-time evaluation of how much money is spent and who has received what money and when money is transferred, you'll see that speed has not occurred in this case, which makes it hard to imagine why we're spending the extra several million in administration.
Last, when we program through large partners, often many agencies get left out and don't get funding, which is disappointing because they may have capacity and good programs. If we weren't losing double administration, we'd be able to reach more of those agencies with the money, which means that more Canadians would get help.
A more direct approach that would yield better results would be to have charities talk directly to public servants, so that the public service could administer funds directly and avoid that duplication. Perhaps a series of strategic grants would be more effective. For example, if the government simply subsidized the salary costs of charities that were fighting COVID, it would yield a better result without losing those administrative costs. Furthermore, it would help protect jobs.
Ms. Senior mentioned how women have been so adversely affected by COVID-19, and the government has raised concerns about the number of jobs lost, especially by women. In this sector, 81% of the people employed are women. The government could go further and offer to underwrite 100% of the existing jobs of charities and agencies fighting COVID for, let's say, 12 months, and then say to those agencies that they'll underwrite that if they hire 50% more people. Not only would a program like that save administration, it would guarantee jobs and increase the number of jobs. Since 81% of the sector is female, there would probably be more jobs created for women, creating a win-win situation and helping charities fight COVID more effectively.
I want to turn to the Canada summer jobs program, because it's a good program but it needs to be improved. This is the third year in a row that GlobalMedic has participated in the program. Some of the drawbacks to the program are that it places an administrative burden on charities without compensation. It's slow. The lack of responsiveness to the program existed before COVID and is now compounded by COVID.
One of the major policy failures this year was the announcement by government to pay 100% of the jobs without infusing more funds. Simply put, when you increase the amount of money paid per job, you're left with fewer jobs. In our case we received three initial jobs. When we realized that we were setting up aid packing sites in different high school and university and college gyms, where volunteers could be packing food kits and hygiene kits, we asked for more jobs. It made sense to us to have the government support students with summer jobs so they could make money to go back to school. We could give them a safe place to work and the work they would be doing would be meaningful because they would be packing aid we were getting to families in need through many charitable partners. We asked for 80 positions; we received two.
The Canada summer jobs program is probably too rigid to handle a crisis response, and it can't meet the needs on the ground. I've gone into detail in my submission on specifics as to why, to give you a better understanding, but I just want you to be aware of that.
Then I want to talk about the student service bursary, and then sum up.
When the Prime Minister announced a program about bursaries on April 22, we were really excited. Our program was a perfect and natural fit—the ability to place students to pack aid and help us fight COVID and help us help families, and the students could make some money to go back to school. Immediately on April 22 when that happened, we reached out to the Prime Minister's chief of staff, other people in the PMO, several cabinet ministers and several MPs. We also invited elected officials to come and visit the sites where we were packing aid, because we wanted them to see the work that was being done. We even got them to pack some aid.
We never heard anything back from the government. This is disappointing because we could easily have hosted 20 students per shift per site, which totals 840 students a week in the GTA, and we could have scaled up launch sites in additional cities.
On June 15, we received an email from WE and were told that they were administering the program. Our agency explained the positions we had, and we entered into a partnership agreement. We have recruited students to participate, and now I'm very concerned that the students will not get a bursary.
When this thing fell apart with WE and the government, we were told by WE that the government would take over. We have room at our sites every day for more students to participate. I immediately wrote to several MPs and to Minister Chagger and was told by Minister Chagger's office that the government was taking over and would be in touch. That was a couple of weeks ago. To this date, we have yet to hear from the government.
I am going to conclude, Chair.
The biggest loser in this will be the students. I am very worried about people falling through the cracks because of poor policy decisions and how they adversely impact people. We're not at the end of the fight against COVID, and we need to learn from what is currently being done to simply improve the process and the programs that are meant to help Canadians. As a nation, we need to rally together to fight COVID. There's simply too much at stake.
My reason for testifying today is just to raise concerns with some of the ways in which the programs that are designed to help Canadians in need have been rolled out. We all need to do better.
Respectfully, Chair, the government needs to do better. There are too many people relying on the support.