Former youth in care to lose benefits after top Alberta court sides with province

© Provided by The Canadian Press

EDMONTON — Alberta’s top court has lifted the suspension of a law that lowers the age at which young adults can receive financial and other benefits once they’ve transitioned out of government care.

The United Conservative government announced in late 2019 that it would lower the cutoff age for the Support and Financial Assistance program to 22 from 24.

A 22-year-old woman who had been in government care argued the withdrawal of support caused deep psychological harm that breached her constitutional rights to life, liberty, security and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.

Last year, the Court of Queen’s Bench granted an injunction stopping the province from implementing the changes until the charter challenge could be heard, a decision which the government appealed.

The Court of Appeal sided with the provincial government, saying the lower court judge failed to put a number of important factors on the scale in balancing the potential harm to the young woman against the public interest.

However, the court urged the province to exercise care in dealing with such cases.

“Any transition of these vulnerable individuals to a new program should be done with careful consideration to its impact on them, and with an eye to minimizing harm,” the judgment says.

“The need for thoughtful transition is particularly acute during a time of social and physical isolation, as we are experiencing in this pandemic. I encourage Alberta to be responsive to this transitional need.”

Source: The Canadian Press