Quebec anti-poverty group questions plan that penalizes new welfare seekers

A Quebec anti-poverty group is questioning a provincial program that imposes financial penalties on welfare seekers who fail to take part.

As of April 1st, first-time seekers can lose up to 224-dollars of their 650-dollar monthly sum if they do not intensively search for work, undergo job training and develop social skills.

Serge Petitclerc, speaking for a coalition of 30 Quebec organizations, says helping people find work is a good idea but they should not be forced to participate and face sanctions.

He says threatening people is never a good strategy.

Petitclerc is concerned people won't be able to participate because they may be illiterate or have comprehension or mental health issues.

He said current welfare payments don't allow people to live comfortably and that cutting payments will just make the situation worse.

The program also has its rewards, first-time welfare seekers could get up to 260-dollars more if they if they join in.