Factum of the Intervener: Counsel for the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund in Falkiner et al. v. Ontario (Ontario Divisional Court)
Ontario Court of Justice Court File No. 810/95
34 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2014 Last revised: 14 Mar 2015
Date Written: 1996
The Women' Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) submits that Ontario Regulations 409/5 and 410/5 are discriminatory. They compromise the security and equality of women and mothers on social assistance, and reinforce harmful stereotypes about the risk of welfare fraud by single mothers and the economic role of women. A single mother who decides to cohabit with a man is automatically disentitled to assistance, irrespective of whether financial assistance is available, desired, or forthcoming from the man, or of the mother's continuing need for assistance. The regulation can dissuade women from entering into cohabitation with men, endanger women escaping abusive relationships, or create unwanted dependence on men. Women who decide not to live with a man are still affected by increased degrading and intrusive scrutiny into their personal lives and relationships. LEAF further submits that the regulations cannot be justified under section 1 of the Charter. Designed to reduce welfare-related costs without regard to individual circumstances, they are not rationally connected to the objectives of providing assistance to those in need or of reducing state expenditures. The regulation does not minimally impair the equality rights of women in its method of narrowing assistance to those in the most need.
Keywords: LEAF, women, legal, Canada, social assistance, benefits, welfare, section 15, Charter, Rights, discrimination, poverty, single mothers, Ontario, social assistance
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