Social Assistance Recipients Affirm Their Dignity by Defending their Rights

The Front commun des personnes assistées sociales du Québec (FCPASQ), commemorated its 45th annual Social Assistance Recipients’ Week of Dignity. Recipients of social assistance, who are amongst the most vulnerable in society, were brutally attacked by the Liberal government in 2018 through the introduction of Bill 173, An Act mainly to introduce a basic income for persons with a severely limited capacity for employment. This law is also known as the Aim for Employment Program and is part of the inappropriately named « Third Plan to Fight Poverty. »

The basic income plan introduced a new category of social assistance resulting in different treatment. Everyone agrees that people with disabilities have special needs. But as FCPASQ points out, « They share common concerns with all social assistance recipients: sufficient money to live, to suffer less discrimination and to have access to employment and social integration measures adapted to their reality. However, currently, each program is treated differently and this creates injustices. »

What community groups, unions, and defence organizations have unanimously denounced is the fact that the government has chosen to leave others on social assistance with extremely low incomes and to maintain the threat of being cut-off in the Aim for Employment program. « In his approach Minister Blais [Minister of Employment and Social Solidarity at the time] considers that people on social assistance without major recognized constraints do not deserve to have their living conditions improved. It’s scandalous! As a result, the gap is being widened between how people are being treated and how the rights of those without recognized constraints are being trampled upon even further, » said Yann Tremblay-Marcotte of FCPASQ.

« The Market Basket Measure is a vital minimum to be guaranteed. To condemn one section of the population to live on 55 per cent of that amount is inhuman. We know that living in poverty for too long affects people’s physical and mental health and undermines their chances of getting work. The government is choosing to treat unemployed people with such little dignity, » Tremblay-Marcotte added.

Far from being demoralized by such attacks, social assistance recipients realize that they must replace the anti-social program with their own agenda.

FCPASQ is using the election period to launch a platform that includes 10 demands to address the injustices in social assistance. The organization adds: « We recognize that within the social assistance system there are also many other problems. That’s why our main demand remains the implementation of a Guaranteed Universal Social Income. During the election period, we invite people to use our demands or challenge candidates on issues of concern to them, such as poverty and others. »

FCPASQ is committed to informing people about responses from politicians.

For more information, visit the FCPASQ website: fcpasq.qc.ca

Serge Lachapelle is the PMLQ candidate in Mercier.

(Photo: FCPASQ)