Falkiner v. Ontario (Minister of Community and Social Services)

The Ontario Court of Appeal struck down the Ontario Government’s “spouse in the house” rule for welfare eligibility as discriminatory. At issue was whether amendments to Ontario’s social assistance regulations, which significantly change the definition of “spouse” for the purpose of receiving social assistance, violate section 7 (security of the person) and 15 (equality) of the Charter. These regulations provide that, if a social assistance recipient lives with a person of the opposite sex, the two are presumed to be spouses and the social assistant recipient is presumed to have access to the income of the other person.

LEAF intervened in the appeal and supported their position that the definition of spouse discriminated against women and single mothers on social assistance.

The Ontario Court of Appeal found that the rule discriminates on the basis of sex, since women comprise almost 90% of those who were cut off social assistance because of the definition.