November 29, 2022
Dear Minister Qualtrough,
I am writing to request that your department investigate whether Youth for Christ (YFC) Winnipeg violated its Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program attestation. As the MP for Winnipeg Centre where YFC Winnipeg is located, I am concerned by reports that its policies have excluded 2SLGBTQ youth from accessing its recreational facilities, and prevented staff and volunteers from openly identifying as 2SLGBTQ.
YFC is home to The Edge, Winnipeg’s only full-sized indoor skatepark. One of the young people who frequents the space hoped to establish weekly skate nights for other 2SLGBTQ youth. The motivation for these sessions was to build a supportive community where 2SLGBTQ skateboarders could freely express themselves while participating in an activity that they love.
According to the young skateboarder who suggested establishing these sessions, the idea was rejected by YFC’s leadership. Moreover, the Free Press reported that about three dozen volunteers and staff at The Edge left in protest over YFC’s policies, and CBC Manitoba revealed discriminatory employment and volunteer policies.
It is unacceptable for an organization that has received significant public funding to employ practices that discriminate against the 2SLGBTQ community. Indeed, YFC Winnipeg has received $357,975 in CSJ funding over the past five years. Every CSJ applicant is required to attest that funding “must not be used to undermine or restrict the exercise of rights legally protected in Canada.”
Given what is now on the public record about YFC’s volunteer and hiring policies, I am concerned that federal money was used to weaken the exercise of these fundamental rights. It is vital that governments ensure accountability in how public funds are used. Minister, I hope you will initiate an investigation into YFC Winnipeg’s use of CSJ funds.
Leah Gazan, MP