The plan is to tolerate extreme poverty in Quebec?

The plan is to tolerate extreme poverty in Quebec?
The plan is to tolerate extreme poverty in Quebec?

As we have seen more and more homelessness in recent years, we all ask ourselves questions. We often think of the housing crisis or the mental health crisis, and rightly so. However, we sometimes need to take a step back and look at other elements of poverty in Quebec. Why do so many people have such low incomes that they can no longer afford housing and are on the verge of ending up on the street?

The Quebec government quietly tabled its fourth five-year plan to combat poverty and social exclusion on the Friday before the national holiday and without a press conference. It should have included a target and means. Let us recall that when the first three plans to combat poverty were announced, new structural aid was announced, even if this aid was only moderately ambitious.

For example, the third plan to combat poverty announced the creation of the Basic Income Program, intended to “lift out of poverty” 100,000 people living with long-term health problems. Even if these people did not actually get out of poverty, the creation of this program was nevertheless a major step forward for Quebec.

In this fourth plan to combat poverty, there is simply no target for ending poverty or announcement of new structural measures. The Council of Ministers did not even see fit to comply with the legal obligation to set, in such a plan, a target for improving the low incomes of people receiving social assistance.

According to Statistics Canada, extreme economic poverty is when income (after tax credits and allowances) does not even cover three-quarters of the “basket” of basic needs. This category is largely found in Quebec among people on welfare, especially single people, but also a substantial number of single-parent families and even two-income families.

When you get the small welfare check, you can’t even cover half of your basic needs! For many, a shared room costs almost the entire check. On the street or close to it, most of these people live in hell.

Whether they are healthy or not, literate or not, these people are focused on their survival and fight hard every day to not only avoid the streets, but also to escape this system which seems to want to drown its providers rather than support them until they find stability.

If our system of last-resort financial assistance is starving, it is partly because it suffers from prejudice and neglect. The modest changes announced in the latest fight plan will not allow people on social assistance to get out of it. This is why the Common Front of People on Social Assistance in Quebec and other groups denounce this plan, describing it as a reflection of cold indifference toward people in extreme poverty.

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