SOCIAL ASSISTANCE
AND
RELATED PROGRAMS

("SARP")

1994

(Archive copy for historical purposes only)

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DEFINITIONS

Common-law Union

Newfoundland

A common-law union is recognized as a family, and children of such a family, whether they are of the man or woman by a previous marriage, common-law arrangement, or illegitimate, are considered as an integral part of the family unit and are not assisted separately. Policy 105(i)

Prince Edward Island
The definition of "spouse" includes a person who, although not legally married to another person, lives with that person as if they were husband and wife. Regulation 1(v)

Persons living in a common-law relationship have their application dealt with as if it were submitted by married applicants. Regulation 4(7); Policy 7(13-3-2)

Nova Scotia - Provincial

The definition of "spouse" includes a person who cohabits with another person (i.e., living as man and wife) although not legally married to that person. Cohabitation may be established by any relevant evidence, such as sharing the same address and living accommodation or either spouse presenting the couple to others as husband and wife. Regulations 3(d,o), 13(e); Policy 05-04-06, 07, 08

Nova Scotia - Municipal

Where adults of different sexes are cohabiting under circumstances that emulate the nuclear family (e.g., functions as an economic unit, are known in the community as husband and wife, have common off-spring, or have traditional family physical living arrangements), they shall, for the purpose of this policy, be treated as one family unit with one adult being designated as the family head and the other(s) as dependents. Policy 1.1.5.4

New Brunswick

"Spouse" means:
a) the husband or wife of the unit head; or
b) a person who resides with the unit head, who shares the responsibilities of the unit, and who benefits economically from the sharing of food, shelter or facilities. Regulation 2

Quebec

The word "spouses" means
1. persons who are married to each other and who cohabit;
2. persons who live together as husband and wife and who are the mother and father of one and the same child;
3. persons of full age who live together as husband and wife and who, at one time, have cohabited for a period of not less than one year.
Such persons remain spouses or, for the purposes of subparagraph 3 of the first paragraph, are presumed to have continued to cohabit despite the temporary absence of one of them.

For the purposes of the Parental Wage Assistance Program, two persons who have been spouses for not less than 184 consecutive days in a year are deemed to be spouses for the year. Act 2

Ontario

"Spouse" means,
i) a person of the opposite sex to an applicant or recipient who, together with the applicant or recipient, has declared to the Director or designated welfare administrator that they are spouses,
ii) a person who is required under the provisions of a court order or domestic contract to support the applicant, recipient or any of his or her dependent children,
iii) a person who has a maintenance obligation towards the applicant or recipient, or any of his or her dependent children under the Family Law Act* notwithstanding any agreement whereby the person and the applicant or recipient purport to waive or release such obligation to support, or
iv) any person of the opposite sex to the applicant or recipient who has resided continuously with the applicant or recipient for a period of not less than three years. FBA Regulation 1(1); GWA Regulation 1(1)

*NOTE: Under sections 30 and 31 of the Family Law Act, a legal obligation to support one's spouse and dependent child (ren) exists where a man and woman (i) are legally married to one another, (ii) have cohabited continuously for a period of not less than three years, or (iii) have cohabited in a relationship of some permanence and are together the natural or adoptive parents of a child. FBA Policy 0203-05 p. 4

Where the applicant or recipient can provide evidence that the economic, social and familial aspects of the relationship were such that continuous residence during three years or more did not amount to cohabitation, a spousal relationship is not deemed to exist. FBA Policy 0203-05; GWA Policy 0303-08

Manitoba - Provincial

A man and a woman who are not legally married to each other, but are living together under circumstances that indicate to the director that they are living together as if they were married to each other, are considered as legally married for the purposes of the Act and Regulations. Act 5(5)

The Social Allowances Program pamphlet stipulates that a living arrangement will be considered a common-law relationship where there is documented evidence of at least two of the following factors: financial interdependence (joint credit cards or bank accounts, etc.), family interdependence (couple presenting themselves as husband and wife) and shared residency (couple shares the same address on public records). Editorial Comment

Manitoba - Municipal

"Spouse" means a member of an applicant's or recipient's household who:
a) is married to the applicant or recipient, or
b) lives with the applicant or recipient under circumstances that indicate to the designated municipal employee that they are living together as if they were married to each other. Regulation 1

According to the Winnipeg Policy Manual, the duration of a relationship is not a factor in determining common-law status. The manual provides over two dozen economic, familial and social guidelines which assist in determining whether or not there is a common-law relationship. As for the provincial program, there must be evidence of at least two factors for a relationship to be considered common-law. Policy p.6

Saskatchewan

"Spouse" means
i) the legal spouse of an individual; or
ii) where an individual does not have a legal spouse or is living separate and apart from his or her legal spouse, another individual who:
a) has co-habited with the individual for a period of not less than one year and shares financial resources with the individual;
b) represents himself or herself as the spouse of the individual or as the father or mother of a child of the individual;
c) is the father or mother of a child of the individual; or
d) for any purpose identifies the individual or a child of the individual as his or her dependant. Regulation 2(f.1) - eff. 08-92

In common-law relationships, the couple shall decide who will apply for assistance as the head of the family. Policy 2-1-1
The possibility of support from a deserting common-law husband should be explored in the same way as with a legal husband. Policy 3-1-2

Alberta

The definition of "family unit" (see section 8.1) includes common-law situations. A couple is considered a family unit for eligibility and entitlement purposes if the following conditions exist:
- the applicant or recipient is living with a person of the opposite sex and, for any reason, has declared that they are in a common-law relationship, or
- the client and the person of the opposite sex meet one or more of the following conditions:
- at least one child in common
- joint bank accounts
- joint provincial health insurance registration
- joint credit cards
- rented or purchased accommodation jointly as a couple
- acknowledged their common-law relationship to members of the community.
Policy SFI 02-05-01

Common-law unions are treated in the same manner as married unions for the purpose of Social Allowances. Policy 03-01-06
Substantiation required for eligibility purposes includes concrete evidence that the spouses share the same address and, in the case of 16- and 17-year olds, written proof of parental consent. Policy 03-01-06 (page 2)

British Columbia

The definition of "spouse" includes the following:
a) the husband or wife of an individual; or
b) an individual who resides with another individual and represents himself or herself as a spouse of that person, or represents himself or herself as married to that person, or indicates a parental responsibility for that other person's child by assisting in caring for the child and providing the child with necessities of life; or
c) an individual who lives with another individual in a conjugal relationship not recognized as a marriage under the laws of the Province, whether or not the individuals share their respective incomes; or
d) an individual living with another individual in a common-law marriage. Regulation 2(18)

Where an applicant has a common-law or legal spouse who refuses to maintain the applicant's child or children from another union, the Family Relations Act obliges a non-biological parent to support a child if that person comes within the definition of "parent" in section 1 of the Family Relations Act (i.e., including cohabitation by the stepparent and the mother or father of the child for a period of two years). If the spouse does not meet this definition of "parent" or if action under the F.R.A. does not result in adequate income for the child or children's well-being, staff may grant the support portion of income assistance for the child(ren) only. Policy 3.18.2

Yukon

In January 1992, Yukon repealed provisions in its Social Assistance Regulations dealing with applications from persons involved in a common-law union. Since that time, the calculation of financial resources takes into account "the monthly net income of the family unit for which the applicant seeks assistance" (previously net income of the applicant only). Regulation 18(1), 18(2)

Northwest Territories

Married applicants and persons living in a common-law relationship have their applications considered as being from a family unit. Provincial Contact

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[ NOTE : This is the last section in the report. ]

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