This case challenged the constitutionality of Ontario’s lifetime ban on receiving welfare for individuals convicted of welfare fraud.
LEAF intervened before the Ontario Divisional Court in partnership with:
- Charter Committee on Poverty Issues
- Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
- DisAbled Women’s Network Canada (DAWN)
- Income Security Advocacy Centre
- Steering Committee on Social Assistance
- Ontario Social Safety Network
The Ontario government repealed the lifetime ban prior to the hearing of the case.
Mr. Broomer received benefits from Ontario Works, but did not report all of the payments he received from the Workers’ Compensation Board. He was then convicted of fraud over $5000, ordered to make restitution, and subjected to a lifetime ban from receiving welfare because of his conviction. His monthly income declined to $1,350 from $2,300, and his monthly family budget fell to $1,515.
Similarly, Mr. Beauparlant was convicted of welfare fraud for failing to fully report his income from the Workers’ Compensation Board. He faced mental health challenges, and was unable to purchase his medication as his drug card was suspended after he was banned from receiving welfare. He was left with $77 a month to support himself.
The Coalition argued that the lifetime ban violated sections 7, 12 and 15 of the Charter.
The Coalition argued that the ban violated s. 7 by denying those in need access to a basic public service deeply linked to life, liberty, and security of the person. It reinforced stereotypes and prejudice and deepened the impoverishment of low-income individuals. It provided no room to consider the particular circumstances leading to the lifetime ban, and no opportunity for reconsideration where a person showed remorse and rehabilitation.
The Coalition also argued that the lifetime ban violated s. 12 as it degraded human dignity by intentionally worsening the individual’s existing poverty, and the punishment went beyond what was required.
Finally, the Coalition argued that the lifetime ban infringed s. 15 because it discriminated against individuals who were in need and required social assistance – reinforcing the discriminatory belief that those who require social assistance are morally inferior and undeserving of support.
The hearing was originally set for October 2003 in the Ontario Divisional Court. However, a newly-elected provincial government decided to repeal the lifetime ban prior to the hearing. As a result, the action was withdrawn.
LEAF is grateful to Jennifer Scott and Chantal Tie, counsel in this case.
Download the factum here.
Our records are imperfect, but we are doing our best to update them – if you were involved with LEAF on this case but your name is not reflected here, please email us at [email protected].