People on social assistance: call for flexibility and solidarity
The province is entering a “general pause”, the second phase of isolation to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Echoing the Common Front of People on Social Assistance in Quebec, the organization Action Plus Brome-Missisquoi recalls that, even in times of crisis, the most vulnerable remain the least fortunate.
If hundreds of thousands of Quebecers find themselves on forced unemployment on Tuesday, they will still be able to receive certain allowances to make ends meet until recovery. “At the federal level, workers will be able to benefit from an Emergency Care Allowance going to $ 450 per week and, at the provincial level, it is $ 573 per week, says Action Plus Brome-Missisquoi coordinator, Nicolas Luppens. Many welfare recipients receive only $ 160 a week. “
Mr. Luppens argues that social assistance recipients will also be penalized, particularly those deemed able to work and who managed to make ends meet thanks to the additional $ 200 they were entitled to earn each month, in addition to their monthly check. With the closure of all non-essential businesses, these people are deprived of an additional income which, in some cases, made all the difference.
“In reality, they cannot go to work if the business is closed on the orders of the government. For the moment, and at least temporarily, all recipients of last resort assistance should therefore be considered as having a constraint to prevent them from working and to obtain an income of more than $ 1000 per month to face the crisis ” , pleads Mr. Luppens.
To enable them to cope with the crisis, the Common Front of People on Social Assistance in Quebec is also calling on the government to provide and deliver a special benefit to social assistance recipients so that everyone receives the maximum amount paid per month to claimants unfit for work, but also that it increases the threshold of authorized liquid assets for all.
Isolated, but more at risk
This reminds us that social assistance recipients often use food banks, soup kitchens and community organizations to survive, which is greatly complicated during periods of confinement. “When you have a lower income, you must have a support network to get out of it and compulsory isolation deprives recipients of social assistance from this network,” noted the speaker.
“Also, when they do their grocery shopping, in normal times, they buy according to store sales and flyers. With the shortages in some markets, they have no choice and will have to get what is available to eat, which can cost them more, adds Luppens. In addition, they often have to do more than one grocery shopping, which is strongly discouraged at this time. But to eat, some will have to do so and these people are more at risk of being infected. ”
Not to mention that the less fortunate cannot afford to make reservations. “These people clearly do not have the same chances of coping with the pandemic as other members of the community. Think of the purchase of medicines, the possibility of making some reservations in the event of quarantine or even having food delivered to your home, ”analyzes Mr. Luppens.
The situation represents a stress that adds to the economic anxiety that many claimants already experience, not to mention the mental health problems that many of them suffer from. “In forced isolation, it can make their condition worse,” said the coordinator.
If it shows flexibility and solidarity with workers, Quebec must do the same and show compassion for the most vulnerable, believes Nicolas Luppens.
“Already, Hydro-Quebec has suspended late fees for unpaid invoices,” he says. There must also be supports if these people cannot pay their rent because their income is suddenly cut. ”
The flexibility of administrative processing of files, including requests for documents that would force beneficiaries to travel, is also requested.