Legal information and recourse
The Pointe St. Charles and Little Burgundy Community Legal Services, a community organisation and legal aid office under the direction of the local community, is currently working on the change of Quebec’s residency criteria for welfare applicants from a legal point of view.
Stemming from its mission to defend the social and economic rights and the collective interests of neighbourhood residents, the Community Legal Services has developed a workshop on the consequences of residency criteria on different government programs.
The legal team is also preparing to challenge this new welfare regulation in court on the basis of its unreasonableness.
Opinion of the Human Rights Commission
In March 2015 the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse published its commentary on the 5 regulation changes, including the regulation change that restricts people from leaving Quebec for more than 7 consecutive days in a calendar month (translation):
The Commission is of the opinion that this measure will increase prejudices against people who are beneficiaries of financial assistance, leading people to believe that welfare recipients use state benefits to travel. However, the analysis of the Ministry of Employment and Social Solidarity reveals that this measure would affect only about 460 people per year. Therefore the implicit accusations that were circulated are clearly prejudices and should never have been propagated by the government.
Though lacking the information necessary to draw an accurate portrait of these 460 people, the Commission is nevertheless concerned that this measure will have a disproportionate impact on the right to financial assistance, enshrined in article 45 of the Charter, of people of different ethnic origins, a situation which is clearly discriminatory and thus prohibited. (p. 21)
Also, not only to these measures further certain stereotypes associated with people on social assistance, specifically in the realms of housing or employment, they would also exclude certain people due to generalisations and stigma, without taking into account their specific needs and capacities. As well, the proposed measure would aggravate the exclusion of the very people that we are hoping to help. (p.29)
The Commission hereby concludes that these four measure contribute to the systemic discrimination faced by people living in poverty and, more specifically, by people on welfare. In different ways, these measures contribute to the exclusion of welfare recipients based on their social condition and will create obstacles to the recognition and exercise of several of their rights that are protected by the Charter. (p 31)