In 1996, the West Coast LEAF Association provided a submission to the Ministry of Social Services, British Columbia, on the discriminatory effects of the Guaranteed Available Income for Need (GAIN) Act on women. LEAF National endorsed the submission.

The submission first addressed a number of concepts basis to women’s achievement of substantive equality. These included the concepts of societal stereotypes, the redress of power imbalances, and the recognition of substantive, effects-based discrimination as they related to the GAIN Act.

The submission then addressed six ways in which the GAIN Act, related regulations, and Ministry of Social Services policies had a discriminatory impact on women:

  1. The Ministry’s policy of including as « income » money awarded for pain and suffering under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Program had an adverse impact on women and children, who were the vast majority of survivors of sexual assault.
  2. The broad definitions of « spouse » and « dependent » under GAIN legislation have an adverse impact on women by tying the receipt of benefits to the existence of an intimate relationship.
  3. The Ministry’s policy of excluding family members from eligibility for compensation under the homemaker placement program discriminates against women, whose work in the family is devalued, and against persons with disabilities by depriving them of the benefit of having a family member act as caregiver.
  4. The requirement that non-custodial parents pursue maintenance from their former partners has an adverse impact on women who receive GAIN benefits by perpetuating relationships of dependency and control.
  5. The deduction of lump sum maintenance payments made in arrears from GAIN benefits, without pro-rating such payments over the period for which they are paid, adversely impacts on single mothers who are most affected by the policy.
  6. GAIN legislation disentitles women with equity in the family home from receiving regular benefits, even when such women are fleeing from violent relationships.

Download the submission below.