Some Quebec children may not be able to go to summer camp this year because of funding cuts to a federal program, says the Quebec Camps Association (ACQ).

Almost all summer camps have waitlists because they need more funds to hire more staff, it said Tuesday.

Cuts to the Canada Summer Jobs program (CSJ) have left many camps in the lurch—including day, overnight, private and not-for-profit camps, according to the association.

Some allege they received 50 per cent less funding compared to last year.

The CSJ program provides wage subsidies to employers to create jobs for young Canadians. And during the pandemic, the federal government increased funding.

Then in 2023, it brought funding back to pre-pandemic levels because youth unemployment had dropped.

About 10 per cent of Canadian youth are currently unemployed, compared to 30 per cent at the height of the pandemic, said a government spokesperson in a statement to CTV News.

The ACQ, which represents 251 summer camps, said not all organizations had their federal funding cut, but it came as a shock to those affected. It says some rely on the funding to operate.

“Many of us were maybe anticipating greater envelopes of funding through the summer jobs program, which would have allowed us to hire additional staff members. Meaning, if we can’t hire them, we'll accept less kids,” said Shauna Joyce, vice-president of ACQ and executive director of Camp Amy Molson.

"If we accept less kids, less parents have less access to childcare over the summer. Which continues to affect the labour shortage we’re already in," she said.

In response, a government spokesperson said, "We understand that changes in funding can be concerning and challenging for organizations, especially when it impacts vital services in the community. Each year, applications for funding exceed the available funding."

The federal government says it aims to help create 70,000 jobs this summer, on par with its 2019 target.