Social Assistance Summaries

The Social Assistance Summaries series tracks the number of recipients of social assistance (welfare payments) in each province and territory.

For the total incomes available to those relying on social assistance, visit the Welfare in Canada report.

Last updated: April 2019

Social assistance is the income program of last resort. It is intended for those who have exhausted all other means of financial support. Every province and territory has its own social assistance program(s) and no two are the same.

In Quebec, the social assistance program is known as Last Resort Financial Assistance, which includes the Social Assistance Program (aide sociale) and the Social Solidarity Program (solidarité sociale).

Social Assistance Program (aide sociale)

The Social Assistance Program provides basic benefits to adults and not children. Between September 1997 and 2005, children’s basic benefits were delivered through the Quebec Family Allowance but since 2005 children’s basic benefits have been available through the Child Assistance Measure.

Social Solidarity Program (solidarité sociale)

The Social Solidarity Program is for those with severely limited capacity for employment. To obtain a social solidarity allowance, a medical report must be produced confirming that the applicant’s physical or psychological condition is significantly impaired and will be so permanently or for an indeterminate time. Such conditions, in combination with their socio-occupational profile (little schooling, no work experience) qualify the applicant as having a severely limited capacity for employment. In the case of a family composed of two adults, only one adult must prove his or her severely limited capacity for employment in order for the family to be eligible for the program.

How many people claim social assistance?

On average, there were 301,000 cases (families and single adults) in Quebec’s social assistance programs during 2017/18. Around 60 per cent (174,000) received support through the Social Assistance Program and 40 percent (127,000) received support through the Social Solidarity Program. 

Social Assistance Program (aide sociale)

The number of Social Assistance Program cases in Quebec fell by 10,400 to reach 174,000 in 2017/18, while the number of beneficiaries (individual claimants, their partners, and dependent children) fell by 15,300 to reach 268,000. Overall the number of cases and beneficiaries has fallen most years since the mid-1990s. 

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Social Solidarity Program (solidarité sociale)

In 2017/18, there was an average of 127,000 Social Solidarity Program cases and 143,000 beneficiaries. Both numbers have remained relatively stable over the last decade, having gradually risen in the decade before that. 

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Table - Quebec

Data notes

  • The data reflects the average number of cases and beneficiaries over the fiscal year (April 1 to March 31)
  • The numbers do not include First Nations living on reserves
  • Click here for more information about how the data is gathered