The Gosselin Case

Gosselin v. Québec… a disappointing Supreme Court decision on the right to social assistance. This case is about a Québec welfare regulation that provided drastically reduced benefits (170$ a month) for persons under thirty years of age who were considered able to work.

NAWL intervened before the Supreme Court. We argued that when the government reduces social assistance to a below-subsistence level, women are harmed in specific ways. Women’s equality rights create a duty for governments to make sure that laws and regulations do not have an adverse impact on women.

Downloadable documents:

What’s the Gosselin case about?

Summary of NAWL’s arguments

NAWL’s factum to the Supreme Court

Translation/summary of the Québec Appeal Court Decision

We consulted women living in poverty or working closely with women living in poverty about the case.

Welfare Rights Are Women’s Rights, Consultation Report (October 2001), by Rachel Cox

The Supreme Court rendered its decision in December 2002. The majority of the Court did not find that the reduced welfare rate violated Ms. Gosselin’s constitutional right to equality or to security of the person. However, dissident judges did recognize that lack of adequate social assistance may, and in this case, did result in a violation of the right to security of the person.

External link to the complete text of The Supreme Court decision

Reaction to the Supreme Court decision (press release)

Autonomy with a Vengeance: Comment on the Supreme Court Decision by Gwen Brodsky

Press Release

The Gosselin Decision: A Divided Court (December 2002)