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West Island petition demands 10 per cent increase in welfare benefits for the handicapped

Pierre Marsan, a Liberal MNA for Robert Baldwin will present a petition to the National Assembly asking the provincial government to increase welfare benefits to the mentally handicapped by 10 per cent.

The petition was delivered to the West Island MNA’s office last week by representatives of West Island Citizen Advocacy and the West Island Mental Health Table, community organizations dedicated to improving the lives of people living with mental handicaps.

On Monday, Marsan said, the petition and its tabling would be one of the first things on his agenda once the National Assembly resumes sitting next week.

“We are hoping the petition makes a difference.” said Mary Clare Tanguay, the director of West Island Citizen Advocacy.

At the moment, she said, disabled people on welfare receive just over $10,000 a year, considerably less than the poverty line, which in 2009 was $18,421 for a single Quebec resident. A 10 per cent increase in welfare benefits would put Quebec recipients on par with their counterparts in Ontario.

Tanguay said the petition, which was circulated over the past two months, contains more than a 1,000 signatures and, is expected to be presented by Marsan in Quebec’s National Assembly next week.

“We want people to be able to have an apartment and to eat, too.” she said of the lobby effort.

The rising prise of food has made it exceedingly difficult for handicapped welfare recipients, especially since the social housing stock is limited and, she said, many people with handicaps are being forced to rent private apartments on the West Island that are beyond their means.

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