Judge Blocks Proposed Cuts To Social Assistance To Canada’s Poorest Families

The Federal Court of Canada has issued an order stopping — for now — deep cuts to social welfare programs for First Nations people in all three Maritime provinces.
The Harper Government announced earlier this year that they would end programs to pay for heat and shelter for social assistance recipients, instead giving recipients a monthly lump sum of as little as $187 per month to pay their rent and power bills. Because federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs John Duncan made the cuts without adequate study or dialogue, New Brunswick First Nations fought the cuts in court.
Citing the devastating effect the cuts would have on vulnerable children and families and the refusal of the Minister to consult or review the effect cuts would have on First Nations, lawyers for New Brunswick First Nations argued that the cuts should be stopped until a court could hear the full case. On Friday, a Federal Court judge agreed and issued an injunction against the federal government.
Former Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Jesse Simon, in whose name the case was brought, expressed satisfaction at the decision. “Our community is one of the poorest in Canada, and these cuts would have made desperate families even more desperate. Ripping dollars away from families barely hanging on would have led to families falling apart and losing the roof over their heads. People would spend th ...

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