PQ government slashes welfare payments

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Unionist
PQ government slashes welfare payments

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lagatta

It is utterly ghastly - even housing payments for people with addictions who are in residential programs to dry up. What a false economy!

And insinuating that people over 55 are slackers if we say we have a hard time finding a job... insult added to injury.

Unionist

These neoliberal disciples of Mike Harris and Stephen Harper made this latest move so quietly and sneakily that I still haven't found any English-language report. There was zero warning and zero announcement - just a few paragraphs in the official gazette modifying some regulation as of June 1:

[url=http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/actualites-en-societe/372340/quebec-coup...ébec stealthily cuts social assistance[/url]

In essence, there's a monthly supplement of $129 on top of regular welfare cheques which goes to people who are "temporarily" constrained from being in the workforce. One such class is new welfare recipients 55 or over - that age will be raised to 58. [I imagine it's considered "temporary" because eventually, recipients will die?] Another is recipients who have pre-school age children (5 or younger). And there are cuts to the frequency of a special grant to people undergoing in-treatment for substance dependency. When it's all rolled out, close to 25,000 households are estimated to be affected.

The "reason" for these unannounced cuts? To provide incentives to recipients to return to the workforce. This is exactly the same cynical justification for Harper's EI cuts to seasonal workers, which the same PQ government is pretending to be opposing.

So far, the only outcry has come from social organizations representing the poor and welfare recipients - and a big public denunciation by Québec solidaire's Françoise David.

The Front commun des personnes assistées sociales du Québec has called a demonstration for March 13 in front of Minister Agnès Maltais's office. They heard nothing about these changes, despite recent meetings with the Minister. The Minister was away and unavailable for comment.

This is some news, on top of the unilateral decision to index tuition fees. Welcome to the common sense revolution.

 

lagatta

I could see some justification for the parents of under-fives category if the universal early childhood centre were truly universal, but there are very long waiting lists so it is not true that parents (usually mums) can simply find work and a day care centre for their child or children under five.

Just like there simply aren't jobs open to all the people between 55 and 65 who want to work. Moreover, many people who would not be seen as "disabled" or seriously ill have constraints and limitations by late middle age. For example, due to some arthritis, while I can and do walk and cycle all day long, I couldn't work in a job that involves standing still for hours, such as many shop clerk or cashier jobs. My joints simply lock.

In terms of cashiers, in supermarkets in Europe and even Mexico, they sit on stools with backs, or chairs. Making these workers stand for hours is needless cruelty, as it is possible to design seats that allow them to easily stand and move about when needed.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

First I've heard of this. I'll try to listen here to see if this affects anyone in these small communities on the coast.

Unionist

Here's an article from the feminist Sisyphe.org website blasting the new measures, written by the co-head of the Sisyphe site as well as the publishing house of the same name:

[url=http://sisyphe.org/spip.php?article4382]The Marois government following in Harper's footsteps[/url]

And Minister Maltais has suddenly become avaiable for comment - backpedalling at full speed, but still speaking arrogantly about how she didn't appreciate Le Devoir's headline (implying they had done this on the sly - which they did), and saying that no one can teach her lessons about poverty, etc. etc. Very sad and shameful:

[url=http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/actualites-en-societe/372348/aide-social... to social assistance: "No one will be left behind", Maltais promises[/url]

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Reminds me of the BC NDP in 1996 when they introduced their BC Benefits program.  It played well to some people for Harcourt to come out swinging against welfare cheats but cost them many of their activist support in the anti poverty community and other progressives. That policy was the beginning of both my and my wife's disenchantment with the provincial party despite not knowing each other at the time.

Here is a good summary by the Fraser Institute on the nuts and bolts of their program.  Of course they thought the cuts were not deep enough.

Quote:

In 1996, the government introduced a package of reforms known as BC Benefits. Upon this package’s introduction, benefits were cut by 8 to 10 percent for welfare recipients without dependents who were deemed employable. Initially, the flat rate earnings exemption of $100 a month for single people and $200 a month for couples or families was eliminated, only to be restored in November 1999. On March 31, 1997, the BC Benefits (Youth Works) Act and the BC Benefits (Income Assistance) Act were introduced. These acts, together with the Disability Benefits Program Act, BC Benefits (Child Care) Act, and BC Benefits (Appeals) Act, eliminated the old Guaranteed Available Income for Need (GAIN) Act. Under the Youth Works program, only clients who were between the ages of 19 and 24 without children and deemed employable had their welfare benefits cut and were required to conduct job searches.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Any chance that this will, at long last, break everybody on the Left in Quebec of the delusion that the PQ is the "progressive" party?

Unionist

Ken Burch wrote:

Any chance that this will, at long last, break everybody on the Left in Quebec of the delusion that the PQ is the "progressive" party?

I'll take that as a rhetorical question. You know, and I know, that life doesn't work that way. Otherwise, the NDP would have been abandoned in droves long ago. You'd think that attacking the students, and then the poor, within a few days of each other would create some waves, and QS is working hard to do that, as are other organizations. But it's the same old story: "What's the viable alternative? They're a minority government after all. And it's not as bad as the Liberals or CAQ... " and so on and so forth. And here's the grain of truth: The movement must provide alternatives. Rejection is only one part of the process.

Ok, back to the topic:

[url=http://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/quebec-canada/politique-quebecoise/201... à l'aide sociale: «incohérence totale» soutient Françoise David[/url]

The PQ is in full damage-control mode. Let's see what Monday brings.

 

Mr_R

Though Lucien Bouchard has effectively moved over to the CAQ and been no longer with the PQ his zero deficit obsession has been retained by this particular leadership. This, it was decided, was one of the "successes" of the 1994-03 PQ time. This is a ridiculous and counterproductive plan... the whole zero deficit obsession all over the Canadian political map.

Trying to force people into the job market is a perfect way to drive down wages. This is particularly so when the central bank abides by the NAIRU theory.

Unionist

[url=http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Planned+welfare+changes+behind+Thurs... welfare changes behind Thursday protests[/url]

Quote:

On Thursday in Montreal and four other Quebec cities, people will take to the streets in protest against proposals by the Parti Québécois government to cut benefits to people on social assistance.

The proposed changes were denounced last week by Quebec’s Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, which underlined in a 36-page analysis that the measures contravene charter guarantees for the right to life, safety, physical and psychological integrity, as well as the right to equality, protection for children and other guarantees for a decent level of living.

Employment Minister Agnès Maltais replied that she would take the commission’s views under consideration, while defending the changes she has put forward, and said the Quebec government “will always respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Maltais is accepting emails (you can contact her at ministre@mess.gouv.qc.ca), written comments and phone calls about her proposals until April 15. An aide said they will be analyzed and studied by the Quebec cabinet, before the minister frames her final proposals that will become permanent June 1.

Lots of time to pull back, Mme Maltais. Quebecers aren't taking neoliberalism lying down!

Brachina

I guess this is good news for the QS next election.

Unionist

Demonstrations are under way in 5 cities around the province, including over 500 in downtown Montréal, organized by anti-poverty groups against the PQ government's welfare cuts.

Meanwhile, get this: All 17 regional public health directors have publicly called on the minister (Agnès Maltais) to cancel the cuts! The health minister (Réjean Hébert) has replied today that the directors "don't understand" what the government is trying to do:

Quote:

Ce que les directeurs de la santé publique n'ont pas compris, c'est l'objectif de la réforme de ma collègue qui vise justement à sortir certains bénéficiaires de l'aide sociale de la pauvreté en les remettants sur le marché de l'emploi.

Thank you, Diane Finley um Stephen Harper Réjean Hébert!

 

lagatta

I'm sure almost all people on welfare would welcome an actual job, but not bullshit training that goes nowhere.

janfromthebruce

training for non existent jobs is always aweful. If real training was provided and also money to support you while one received training it would be fine but often it is training in resume and job hunting strategies and so on. The only one's really benefiting is the ones getting paid to provide the training.

Unionist

Increases for 85,000 single welfare recipients, which were supposed to take effect "a few short weeks" after an April 9 announcement, will now be postponed until September.

[url=http://www.radio-canada.ca/nouvelles/Politique/2013/04/09/008-agnes-malt...(En français)[/url]

 

lagatta

They are still persecuting older unemployed workers:

Pour les sans-emploi âgés de 55 à 58 ans, la mesure de suppression du supplément de 129 $ sera maintenue à compter du 1er juin. Cependant, ces personnes auront droit à des rencontres personnalisées avec leur centre local d'emploi pour qu'ils entament une démarche de retour au travail.

Their "personalised meetings" at the local job centre won't pay the bills, or the bus and métro to look for a job, and are more bullshit than anything else. There is monumental ageist discrimination against workers over 50, and the government is well aware of it.

Brachina

http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/quebec-loses-faith-as-marois-...

The English media has finally noticed.

Honestly I don't see how marios can fix this, she's alienated the left, the hard core soveriegntists, and has not gained anything for it. Now nobody seems to trust her.

lagatta

I don't have any pity for her, but this could mean a return of the Liberals and their hardcore anti-worker and anti-ecology policies.

Mr_R

Politically, this is ridiculous. Minority governments are no time for the "hard measures"... the only way it makes sense is if she thinks she can encroach upon the CAQ and make it such that the CAQ decide to prop up the government and maintain their influence at all costs as a result of the threat of losing that...

Unionist

This demo last night actually protested many neoliberal actions of the PQ government - welfare cuts, tuition hikes, broken promises on mining royalties... The occasion was the first anniversary of the election.

autoworker autoworker's picture

It's difficult to budget without revenue.

Unionist

It's difficult to have logical conversations with governments who think it's natural for billionaires to own all the means of production in society while they sit and wonder, dumbfounded, where they're going to get revenue.

That's why we dub them as neoliberal scum.

 

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

Unionist wrote:

It's difficult to have logical conversations with governments who think it's natural for billionaires to own all the means of production in society while they sit and wonder, dumbfounded, where they're going to get revenue.

That's why we dub them as neoliberal scum.

 

 

So, how do you propose to mug them for that 'trickle down' effect? Besides, what if they resist?

Unionist

autoworker wrote:
So, how do you propose to mug them for that 'trickle down' effect?

1. Throw out corrupt politicians who lick the boots of the rich and get dollars stuffed up their ass as rewards.

2. Have a democratic conversation about how to exploit our resources and produce our commodities.

Quote:
Besides, what if they resist?

Resist what? The law? Search me. Apologize, fold our tents, and slink home quietly. Them billionaires are big big dudes.

 

autoworker autoworker's picture

Unionist wrote:

autoworker wrote:
So, how do you propose to mug them for that 'trickle down' effect?

1. Throw out corrupt politicians who lick the boots of the rich and get dollars stuffed up their ass as rewards.

2. Have a democratic conversation about how to exploit our resources and produce our commodities.

Quote:
Besides, what if they resist?

Resist what? The law? Search me. Apologize, fold our tents, and slink home quietly. Them billionaires are big big dudes.

 

I trust that First Nations would first agree to any exploitation of resources extracted from their land that are beyond their own needs.

Indeed, billionaires are quite capable of looking after their interests. There's no need to apologize.

lagatta

Françoise David on the harm caused by the so-called "welfare reform" (aka cuts):

http://www.quebecsolidaire.net/francoise-david/2013/10/%EF%BB%BFlettre-o...

Plus de 4 000 personnes ont vu leurs prestations coupées de 129$ par mois. Cela représente une perte de 17,6% sur des revenus déjà insuffisants pour couvrir leurs besoins de base. 1 502 personnes sont de jeunes parents et 384 sont âgées de 55 à 58 ans.

Les 2 363 autres personnes sont coupées pendant que leur dossier est «en traitement». Elles doivent faire la preuve de leur contrainte à l’emploi pour raisons de santé. En attendant, elles sont condamnées à plus de misère et à voir leur dignité attaquée au nom d’économies de bout de chandelles.

Est-ce que c’est ça « faire attention aux gens » comme vous aimez tant dire Mme Maltais?

For some reason, my post isn't showing. Hope this edit will correct that.

Unionist

*bump*