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Changes announced earlier this year to the Canada Summer Jobs program lead to an outcry from some politicians and potential applicants, but it appears the fire behind the furor has flickered out somewhat.

In January, the federal Liberal Party revealed that applicants would be required to sign an attestation stating they respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and LGBT and abortion rights in Canada.

Applications from businesses and organizations are handled in Oshawa through the office of MP Colin Carrie.

Carrie’s manager of constituent services Eric Guernsey says they have received a few letters from organizations, mostly those with religious affiliations, that voiced “concern with the direction of this program.”

“Generally speaking it is that values attestation [that is an area of concern],” he says.

Outside of that, he believes the satisfaction with the program is “very high.”

He says one private sector applicant told him they would not be able to offer a summer-specific product without the support of the program.

Nancy Shaw, CEO of the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce says she has received only one complaint so far this year about the Canada Summer Jobs program, and it was unrelated to the controversial attestation aspect.

In fact, Shaw said it didn’t cause much apprehension among Chamber members at all.

“I really didn’t hear a lot of concerns, to be honest with you. There wasn’t a lot of pushback,” she says.

However, Shaw says the increase of Ontario’s minimum wage to $14 as of Jan. 1, 2018 is an issue she’s heard about frequently.

Guernsey notes he did notice a considerable increase in the number of applications from the private sector and says that likely can be linked to the minimum wage hike.

He points out that the controversy earlier this year may have actually raised the profile of the program.

“It has been a very non-controversial program for a long time, and it was much more in the headlines than in the past,” he says. “That could in some ways have been positive because some organizations may not have even been aware of the program before.”

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

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