Loading articles...

WE Charity to 'refocus mission' following grant controversy, cancels all events

Last Updated Jul 15, 2020 at 6:39 pm MDT

FILE - Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau speak at a WE Day event. (CityNews)

WE Charity announces changes, organization review following recent controversy over now-cancelled student grant contract

The charity is also cancelling all events for the 'foreseeable future,' saying it is due to the pandemic

TORONTO (NEWS 1130) — WE Charity has announced major changes to its organization and the cancellation of WE Day events amid controversy over a now-cancelled $900 million contract for a student volunteering program.

WE says it plans to “refocus” its mission and is making a series of governance and structural adjustments. This includes an organizational review by experts.

“The purpose of the review is to streamline the WE organizational structure, including evaluating the future of ME to WE, with the goal of a clearer separation of the social enterprise from the charitable entities,” the organization says in a release.

“By making these changes within our organization, WE can move forward to the next 25 years of impact focused on what matters most: the communities and youth we serve,” WE says.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the charity also says it is cancelling all events for the “foreseeable future.”

Operators say more than 1.5-million student volunteers have attended 137 WE Days over the last 25 years.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly come under fire on Parliament Hill after the decision to award this charity a contract worth nearly a billion dollars.

It was later learned members of his family have been paid to speak at WE Day events.

The charity has confirmed in a statement that between 2016 and 2020, the prime minister’s mother, Margaret Trudeau, received $250,000 for 28 events, while his brother, Alexandre Trudeau, received $32,000 for eight events.

Earlier this week, Trudeau apologized for not recusing himself from the decision to award WE Charity the contract.

Meanwhile, the federal Conservatives are planning to call Trudeau to testify before a parliamentary committee on his government’s decision to have WE Charity administer the $900-million student volunteer program.

RELATED: Conservatives call for Trudeau to testify at committee on WE Charity deal

The Conservatives also called for a criminal investigation after the Trudeau government gave a sole-source contract to the WE Charity.

The ethics commissioner previously announced an investigation into the federal government’s initial decision to have WE Charity manage the program for summer students.

With files from Cormac Mac Sweeney, Mike Hall and the Canadian Press