This case concerned the prosecution of single mothers for welfare fraud where they accepted economic assistance from a man and were then categorized as married persons who no longer needed social assistance.  

LEAF intervened before the Québec Court of Appeal. This intervention was precedent-setting in itself, with the Court ruling that courts had broad discretion to allow interveners.  

Facts 

Ms. Caron was convicted of welfare fraud after the court found that she was living as a married person, and not as a single person. She had a male friend who often visited on weekends, protected her from her abusive husband, and helped her to obtain loans she required to provide for basic needs. Because her friend identified himself on loan applications as her spouse, the court ruled she was living as a married person. 

Arguments 

LEAF intervened to argue that equality rights under the Charter applied in the context of criminal proceedings, and that courts were required to respect equality rights. It violated the equality rights of single mothers to be categorized as married persons, and therefore open to allegations of welfare fraud, simply if they accepted economic assistance from a man.  

Outcome 

The Québec Court of Appeal allowed Ms. Caron’s appeal, and acquitted her of all charges.  

LEAF is grateful to Lucie Lamarche, counsel in this case.  

Download LEAF’s 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].