Rising food, rent or gas prices: While inflation affects every household, it makes life even harder for those on welfare and living on less than $1,200 a month.
“We have no choice but to forget to eat beef. To eat meat, it has to be on special, so it's often pork or chicken. Fish, we forget that too and fresh vegetables, it depends on the price, especially in winter, ”laments Sylvain Caron, a resident of Rawdon, in Lanaudière, who receives $ 1,120 per month in social assistance.
He is one of some 253,000 Quebecers to be recipients of social assistance programs in 2022.
Between diabetes, motor and respiratory problems, the 63-year-old has not been able to work for almost six years.
"There, it's been about a year that I have the status of severe constraint to employment", explains the one who has worked all his life in community organizations and who continues to volunteer.
Thanks to this status, Mr. Caron receives more than the basic social assistance income, which amounts to $726 per month.
In 2022, a single adult can only receive a maximum of $1,138 under the Social Solidarity program, according to the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity.
“Even if I receive a little more than other people on social assistance, I have trouble finishing the month. I don't know how those who receive less manage. Some must clearly deprive themselves of food, ”he laments.
Rents: financial abyss
It is above all the constantly rising price of housing that is becoming suffocating, argues Mr. Caron.
"The rest of us can't afford not to pay our rent, because if we have a bad record at the Housing Court, we can end up on the street because no landlord will want us anymore", loose- he.
Result: there is less and less money left for food after the 1st of the month and the payment of the rent.
For Serge Petitclerc, spokesperson for the organization For a Quebec Without Poverty, the situation of these people is increasingly catastrophic.
“Before the pandemic and before the inflationary crisis, people on social assistance already did not have the minimum required to meet their basic needs. It is obvious that at this moment, it becomes dreadful, ”he drops.
In this context, every penny counts and keeping a very tight budget is a must, adds Sylvain Caron.
Each of his expenses is meticulously entered into a spreadsheet.
“Luckily, I found a roommate who helps me cut some expenses in half, otherwise I would have less than $200 left to eat each month. There, I try to save to buy a walker to help me get around,” he explains.