Quebec asks disabled woman on welfare to repay money earned begging

MONTREAL — Many in Montreal were shocked by the story of a disabled woman on welfare who was asked to repay money she had earned begging in the streets.

After being questioned by an investigator from the Quebec Ministry of Employment and Social Solidarity (MESS), the woman allegedly received a letter asking her to repay $25,738 in income that she’d made by begging near the Berri-UQAM metro station over the past 10 years.

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According to a report in La Presse, the amount was calculated by using an estimate of $40-$60 per week in earnings.

Although he could not comment on this particular case, David McKeown, an MESS spokesperson, told Global News that the law requires everyone, including welfare recipients, to report every cent of income earned.

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“Even if someone is begging for money, they must claim it as income, even if they receive welfare payments,” he said.

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According to McKeown, in order to pay back the debt, $56 a month would be taken from a welfare recipient’s monthly assistance payment. If the debt was related to a false declaration, this monthly repayment would be increased to $112.

An adult on welfare in Quebec will receive $616 per month in Quebec in 2015.

Do you think the Quebec Ministry for Employment is being a bit over-zealous — or do you agree that everyone, including welfare recipients, should declare all their income or face the consequences? Let us know in the comments below.