Conservatives demand audit on government outsourcing of $900M aid program
June 29, 2020
Dear Auditor General Hogan,
On Thursday, June 25th, the Liberal government announced they will be outsourcing the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), a $900 million-dollar program, to the internationally mandated WE Charity. The CSSG will pay post-secondary students and recent graduates between $1,000 and $5,000 dollars for volunteer work. Outsourcing a $900 million-dollar program designed to pay students and recent graduates for volunteer work to a third party raises justifiable concerns and a number of questions. In addition, the connections between WE Charity and the Prime Minister are well documented.
In a display of cross-partisan collaboration, the House of Commons mandated your office to conduct an audit of the government’s COVID-19 spending. Your office included the COVID-19 spending audit in its top three prioritized audits to be completed. On June 9th, the Standing Committee on Finance passed a unanimous motion (10 YEAS to 0 NAYS) calling on your office to audit all programs associated with COVID-19, and for the government to provide your office with sufficient funding to do so. During your appearance at Finance Committee on Monday, June 22nd, you stated:
“We viewed the committee’s motion as reinforcing the importance of our work and its value to parliament. We pride ourselves in supporting Parliament to the best of our abilities. Given our current resourcing and funding levels, we need to be selective when deciding on the audits that we conduct; we will not be able to audit each, and every federal program associated with Canada’s COVID-19 response.”
Auditor General, we are writing to ask your office and team of auditors to include the $900 million-dollar CSSG program and the government’s outsourcing of it to WE Charity in your final report to Parliament on the government’s pandemic spending. By outsourcing this program to a third party, the proper channels for Opposition scrutiny, the very bedrock of our parliamentary democracy, have been circumvented. Indeed, it is your office that will provide the most legitimate and transparent examination of this program.
The Trudeau government has brought forward unprecedented levels of spending and administration of programs due to COVID-19, but this does not mean that accountability, transparency and value for money should be ignored. Simply put, they can never be ignored.
Auditor General, we look forward to your response to our request to include the government’s $900 million-dollar Canada Student Service Grant, and the administration of this program to the internationally run WE Charity, in your final report to Parliament on the government’s COVID-19 spending.
Hon. Pierre Poilievre, M.P.
Shadow Minister for Finance
Dan Albas, M.P.
Shadow Minister for Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
Raquel Dancho, M.P.
Shadow Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Youth