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Spouse in house to Supreme Court. (Income Security).

TORONTO -- The Falkiner Case on Ontario's "spouse in the house" rule is headed for the Supreme Court of Canada after the provincial government applied for and was granted leave to appeal.

The case harks back to 1995 when the Ontario government changed social assistance legislation so that a person was defined as a "spouse" as soon as they started living together. Until then the someone of the opposite sex became a spouse after removing a three-year cohabitation period. Over a thousand women were cut off from welfare benefits.

In the Falkiner case four women successfully challenged the government's new definition in the Ontario courts. Justice Alvin Rosenberg ruled the province's definition of "spouse" is unconstitutional.

The Ontario government took the case to the Ontario Court of Appeal and in May 2002, that court upheld Justice Rosenberg's ruling and declared that social assistance recipients are a protected class of persons under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and ruled that governments cannot discriminate against social assistance recipients.

Following that decision, the Ontario government amended the definition of "spouse" to reimpose a cohabitation period reducing it to three months.
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Publication:Community Action
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Apr 14, 2003
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