Quebec to inject $3 billion into anti-poverty program – News/Quebec – Quebec plans to inject $3 billion over the next five years to fight poverty by increasing financial assistance to society’s poorest.
December 10, 2017.   PRESSE CANADIENNE

Individuals with a limited capacity to work are the big winners of the much-anticipated welfare reform announced on Sunday. By 2023, they will see their annual government assistance jump from $12,749 to $18,029, which will bring their income up to the poverty threshold. Quebec will pay a total of $1.2 billion to provide them with a basic income (or guaranteed minimum income), separate from rules imposed in the social assistance program.

People deemed fit to work will continue to operate under the current social assistance system, with training and job search bonuses subsidized to varying degrees.

These measures are expected to bring some 100,000 destitute people out of poverty by the end of 2023, government officials said.

The policy made public Sunday by Prime Minister Philippe Couillard and François Blais, the minister of Employment and Social Solidarity, was immediately denounced by anti-poverty groups. Convinced Quebec is using the carrot-and-stick approach, group members said the plan will create two classes of poor: those who cannot work and are rewarded and others who are always penalized.

The 100-page document includes 43 measures and is titled Government Action Plan for Economic Inclusion and Social Participation 2017-2023, and mainly targets single people.

Quebec has 802,377 people currently living below the poverty line, set at $18,000 a year for a single person.

The number of welfare recipients is steadily declining and stands at 419,527 people, who are entitled to a basic monthly benefit of $628.

The action plan announced Sunday does not change anything in Bill 70, the controversial law passed last year to encourage people on social aid to enlist in programs to find a job or get more training. If they refused, their monthly cheques would be cut.

Quebec recognizes in its document that social assistance benefits have been indexed annually, in general, but “have not kept pace with the cost of living, leading to a shortfall.”

The Employment Objective program, which provides a variety of services to facilitate training and access to the labour market, will be gradually increased by approximately $7 million per year over the next five years.

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