Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here with the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London. The member mentioned her former boss, Joe Preston, who was a great friend. I now have his office. He and I solved a lot of the world's problems in that office in the last Parliament.
If the member goes back to check on those grant positions, those summer student positions, she would notice that back in 2015 there were about 97 of them. However, last year, there were 209 of them. That is because our Liberal government doubled the investment in summer students, and I think the member can get the math on that.
Our government knows that a strong middle class and a growing economy depend on young Canadians getting the skills and work experience they need to succeed. We have doubled the Canada summer jobs program compared to previous Conservative governments, creating meaningful, paid work experience for almost 70,000 students per year.
I must say that it is a little disappointing that members opposite are spending so much time maybe not giving out all the information on the program, and I would be happy to set the record straight here today.
First of all, the attestation, as outlined in the application guidelines, concerns both the job and the core mandate of the organization. What do we mean by “core mandate”? We mean the primary activities undertaken by the organization that reflect the organization's ongoing services provided to the community. It is not the beliefs of the organization. It is not the values of the organization. I would like to point out that applicants have always been required to outline their organization's mandate and the roles and responsibilities of the job to be funded. This is not a new requirement.
However, what was new this year was that applicants had to attest that both the job and the organization's core mandate respect individual human rights here in Canada. What do we mean by that? We mean the respect of individual human rights, including the rights of women and LGBTQ2 Canadians. That is to say that these rights are respected when an organization's primary activities and the job responsibilities do not seek to remove or actively undermine these existing rights. By including this requirement, we are preventing federal funding from flowing to organizations whose mandates or projects do not respect individual human rights, the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is as simple as that.
Our government has a responsibility to ensure that its policies, programs, and budgets respect and protect human rights. I want to make it clear that, as in previous years, churches, religious groups, and faith-based organizations were encouraged, welcomed, and eligible to apply to the Canada summer jobs program. They add tremendous value to our communities. On this side, we have helped thousands of faith-based groups, not-for-profits and businesses alike, creating just under 70,000 summer jobs. However, this does not require an individual employee in any organization to change his or her beliefs.
We believe that investment in youth is a wise investment, not just for now but for the future, which is why we doubled this investment. I will stand with the government on its actions on this file.