Single mom facing child-support squeeze
Published Monday, November 22, 2010 9:37PM EST
ST. SAUVEUR - The boyfriend of a single mother making just over $11 per hour is seeking child support, not because he wants to, but due to a welfare stipulation.
Sheila Gauthier, who supports three teenagers on the money she earns as a cashier at a Jean Coutu pharmacy in St. Sauveur, north of Montreal, said she was surprised to learn her former partner was seeking child support for one of their children, who lives with him.
"I said, 'Why are you doing this to me?' He said, ‘It's not me, but I'm getting letters from the government saying they're going to cut off my cheque... what am I going to live on?'" said Gauthier.
On and off welfare herself for several years, Gauthier's ex is unable to work and sought social assistance.
Under Quebec regulations, welfare is considered a last-resort form of financial aid, and anyone who seeks it must first look for other sources of income, including child support.
Gauthier's ex-boyfriend, who preferred not to be interviewed, told CTV Montreal he does not want to seek money from his former partner.
Both parties are due in court for a decision at the end of January.
"I have three children under my care, he has one, and I make $11.20 an hour. How can I pay child support?" said Gauthier, who is now on stress leave from her job.
"During all this process, all the stress, all the money, I had to spend to prove my point... I'm here today, off work," she said.
Family lawyer Maria Battaglia said the case is using up legal resources, all for the sake of about $60 per month.
"One has to do that math and ask; what are we doing here? This woman has, from what I understand, just gotten herself off welfare. Do we want to discourage her from working or do we have a system that encourages work?" said Battaglia.