Employment objective: a program denounced by
welfare recipients who want to work
April 3, 2018, Montreal – François Blais, the minister responsible for social assistance, introduces forced training while maintaining significant barriers to the employment integration of service providers. The members and allies of Projet Genèse, an anti-poverty group from Côte-des-Neiges, demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity on this first day of the implementation of Objectif Emploi a program that forces people seeking social assistance for the first time to participate in mandatory measures or face significant cuts to their checks. This approach seems to be based on the myth that claimants will not look for work unless they are forced, under threat of severe penalties.
In reality, the welfare system itself imposes significant barriers to obtaining and keeping a job. For Marina Rishkevitch, Project Genesis Anti-Poverty Committee member, “Mr. and Mrs. everyone do not know that social assistance only lets you work for $ 200 / month! If you win more, your check will be cut, dollar for dollar. The jobs that are available are often part-time or on-call. When you start working, agents bombard you with requests for documents and frequently you end up with a cut check because of communication problems or the agent’s mistakes. ”
According to an access to information request, in the space of just one month, some $ 2.5 million was withdrawn from the checks of claimants who report their work income to social assistance. This figure represents countless hours worked by claimants who derive no monetary benefit. For Cathy Inouye, Project Genesis community organizer, “the government draws in the salaries of providers. It is a scandal. Second, this same government dares to spread the false perception that people on welfare do not want to work. Being unemployed is not a personal failure-there is structural unemployment in our society. Minister Blais acknowledged that the work earnings allowed to welfare recipients are too low but only proposed symbolic changes in Bill 173.
Objectif Emploi was denounced for introducing new mechanisms that allow the check of a first applicant to be reduced by half. Today’s protesters are also worried that the influx of first-time forced applicants into training programs will leave fewer availabilities within these same programs for other providers.
The extremely low level of welfare benefits was another subject of criticism. “How can you look for a job when you can not even pay your rent with a monthly check of $ 648? How to buy food, bus tickets to interview, pay for your phone to contact employers? They say they want jobs, but they do not want to give us the means to do it. Human rights are for everyone, not just for people with well paid jobs, “said Maria Ines Garduno, another member of the committee.