we charity controversy

WE Charity backs out of Canada student grant program after controversy

The partnership that would have seen WE Charity team up with the federal government to distribute more than $900 million for the new Canada Student Service Grant, has ended.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that WE decided to end the partnership that would have given the charity the sole responsibility to distribute the grants.

The federal government was set to pay WE upwards of $19.5 million to distribute the grants that are part of a $9 billion emergency student funding package created to help students having difficulty finding work due to the pandemic.

Concerns over Trudeau's decision to have WE distribute the grants stemmed from his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau's involvement with the charity where she is an "ambassador and ally" and hosts a podcast on mental health called WE Well-being.

Trudeau claimed that WE was the only charity big enough to  distribute the more than $900 million to help students with 20,000 volunteer placements, but many people heavily criticized the decision.

People pointed to Grégoire Trudeau's involvement as a potential conflict of interest and labelled it "cronyism." Others were reminded of the last time Trudeau got close with the Aga Khan and taxpayers ended up picking up the tab for a lavish vacation.

Of the decision, WE said that it and the officials at the Employment and Social Development Canada have "mutually agreed that the operational responsibility will be passed to the Government of Canada."

"WE Charity has offered to support this transition in any way possible," the statement continues. "With the systems and structures largely built, we are confident that the program will continue to deliver its important mission to students and not-for-profit organizations."

Trudeau told reporters today that the situation was "unfortunate" but the government supported WE's decision. He said the government will still be working to ensure opportunities are available for students.

He said that the government will be moving forward with distributing the grants itself and enlisting other organizations to help build the network and infrastructure he said WE had available.

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