Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference at Rideau cottage in Ottawa, on Friday, March 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

WE group to stop running federal volunteer program, return funds already paid

Volunteer program is to pay up to $5,000 for schooling costs for participants who volunteer the maximum 500 hours

Youth Minister Bardish Chagger says the WE organization won’t manage the federal government’s $900-million program to pay students and fresh graduates for volunteer work this summer.

In a statement this morning, Chagger says it’s a “mutually agreed upon decision.”

Since the charity founded by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger was announced as the manager of the program last week, the sole-sourced deal has been criticized because of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s close relationship with the group.

Trudeau and Chagger have said repeatedly that the recommendation to use WE for the work came from the public service, not politicians.

The volunteer program is to pay up to $5,000 for schooling costs for participants who volunteer the maximum 500 hours, and is aimed at students who can’t find work this summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chagger’s statement says volunteers who have already signed up shouldn’t be adversely affected, and WE Charity will pay back money it’s already received from the federal government.

The Canadian Press

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