Less than a week after new welfare reforms were adopted in Quebec, the new law is garnering criticism from advocates for the needy.

Bill 70 forces first time welfare applicants to enroll in job training programs. Those who refuse risk having their monthly cheque cut by more than $200.

“It’s going to be a really difficult thing,” said Cathy Inouye, spokesperson for community group Project Genesis. “The welfare rate is already very low, it’s only $623 a month.”

An estimated 17,000 people apply for welfare in the province every year and Inouye said the new regulations will push more people into the streets.

“What we’re really concerned about is that smaller group of people who can’t go into the work training program and that’s usually people who are very sick, who are already working and they can’t drop their work and just go into a training program,” she said.

Marina Richekevitch, an immigrant from Russia, said the new program is an obstacle course. While they don’t apply to her due to being on permanent disability after battling breast cancer, she said it could have horrific effects on others.

“What’s the purpose of these courses if in the end, you have no job?” she said. “In the end, you have no job and you’re back to welfare. We are not lazy, we are very motivated.”

Inouye said that rather than penalizing welfare recipients, the government should invest more in training programs.

“They’ve actually cut several of the programs, they cut over $100 million,” she said. “They’ve never reinvested that money.”