Top court rejects Quebec’s call for cash [expanded welfare services]

CNews.canoe.ca – cnews/politics
March 3, 2011.   By Brian Lilley, Parliamentary Bureau, Ottawa

OTTAWA – The Supreme Court told Quebec on Thursday it can’t demand federal tax dollars to fund expanded welfare services in the province.

Quebec began court action against the federal government in 1996, asking the Federal Court of Canada to force the feds to send more money to Quebec City for social service programs in schools, programs to help people with disabilities and programs geared at juvenile delinquents.

It took 12 years to have the case heard and get a first judgment. The Federal Court, and then the Federal Court of Appeal, ruled against Quebec.

Thursday, in a unanimous judgment, the Supreme Court also rejected Quebec’s request for more funds.

Under the federal-provincial cost-sharing agreement, the feds have agreed to share the costs of anti-poverty measures with provinces. But the court found that the expanded welfare services Quebec wanted money for did not have an “anti-poverty purpose.”

Social services like welfare fall under provincial jurisdiction. The federal government needs permission from, or the co-operation of, the provinces to spend money in those areas.

Quebec has taken the federal government to court many times, but normally to keep it from meddling in provincial matters.

In 2010, Quebec won a judgment that parts of the federal Assisted Human Reproduction Act infringed on provincial health-care jurisdiction.

In 2005, Quebec lost a case which sought to stop the federal government from running a maternal-leave program, claiming it fell under provincial jurisdiction.

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