“At some point, people will ask him, ‘What does your father do for a living? I don’t feel like her answering: ‘It’s a BS’,” confides Jonathan, about his daughter returning to daycare, sitting in the small backyard of his apartment in Sherbrooke.
The “BS”. It’s a derogatory term, associated with laziness, painful to hear for any welfare recipient. More than 50 years after the introduction of this financial assistance in Quebec, they still face a lot of prejudice, according to director Jean-Sébastien Dutil. It is to allow the public to know “the human behind the check” that he presents the journey of four of them in his documentary The well-beingbroadcast Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on ICI Télé.
“I would like Quebec to be able to see, listen and understand that the vast majority of people are on social assistance for a short time. It’s last resort help to get out of it, which can be normal in someone’s journey,” explained Mr. Dutil in an interview.
An “oxygen mask”
“People have the reflex to say: ‘There are enough jobs right now, why aren’t they going to work?” adds Geneviève Bouchard, director of the Sherbrooke Action Plus organization, intended to support these beneficiaries. But these are generally people who have exhausted their unemployment and their health insurance and who still have a constraint on employment. Those who are fit, they return to the labor market. »
There’s Vicky, a single mother of three who has had to deal with postpartum depression and a sick child. Welfare was his “oxygen mask”.
Julienne, a refugee in Canada in 2019, dreams that her children, who have remained in Africa, can join her. She wants to work to help them financially and she is taking courses to become a beneficiary attendant.
Jean-Sébastien, who has difficulty walking, has lived through foster families, violence, drink, drugs and prison. He fights to have his severe constraint to work recognized and thus increase the amount of his benefit.
Jonathan, a drummer in a heavy metal band, had to stay home to take care of his daughter, due to a lack of childcare. He would like to make a living from his artistic passions and he is not enthusiastic about the idea of working in the food industry.
These are four distinct profiles, but these people have in common that they are forced to apply for social assistance, and even feel ashamed of it. “I’m a guy who likes to work, admits Jean-Sébastien. It means that I have mourning to do. »
Several community organizations have been calling for changes to social assistance for years. As inflation peaks and the housing crisis rages, L’Action Plus calls for an increase in benefits, which are $726 per month for a single person and $870 for a person with a disability. ‘use.
“Today, people living in poverty cannot manage it, with these amounts”, judge Mme Bouchard.
The Common Front of social assistance people demands “one check per person”, that is to say that we stop giving a single check to couples living together, which amounts to a basic amount of $ 1,099 for two people . Mme Bouchard also deplores the fact that people living in poverty have not received the $500 promised by the government to deal with inflation, an amount which is instead withheld to repay their debt to social assistance.
Finally, M.me Bouchard wants provincial politicians to position themselves on these issues as part of the election campaign.