A fairer indexation method
for social assistance benefits
Let us take the example of an individual who lives alone, in a bachelor apartment, in Montréal. Between 2008 and 2011, the combined real increase in the cost of housing, food and public transportation totalled $63.50 a month4. During the same period, the monthly social assistance benefit for an adult whose capacity for employment was not severely limited increased by $23, rising from $551 to $574. The income shortfall for that person was, therefore, at least $40.50 a month in 2011.
If we ask ourselves whether such a small benefit can actually cover all the needs deemed essential, it becomes obvious that indexation based on the wrong factors can, over the years, increase the impoverishment of people who are already very vulnerable.
4. The cost for housing is the average cost of a bachelor apartment in the Montréal census metropolitan area, according to the Rental Market Report - Montréal CMA, fall 2008, and the Rental Market Report - Quebec Highlights, spring 2011, published by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The cost of food is that of the Montréal Diet Dispensary’s nutritious food basket. The cost of public transportation is that of a regular-fare pass issued by the Société de transport de Montréal.
An indexation method based on essential needs would at least make it possible to maintain beneficiaries’ purchasing power, while awaiting the implementation of an integrated income support regime, as recommended by the Comité in its advisory opinion on Individual and family income improvement targets.
This is a question of right, justice and social solidarity.
With less poverty, all of us stand to gain immeasurably.