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Press Release: Alberta Court of Appeal Denies Benefits to Young Adults Raised in Government Care

For Immediate Release

Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories – The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) is extremely disappointed by today’s Alberta Court of Appeal decision that puts young adults raised in government care at risk of losing critical benefits. Last January, Alberta passed a law reducing the age until which young adults raised in government care could receive financial and emotional supports to help them transition to independence. A.C., one of the young adults who challenged this law, feared the loss of these benefits would force her to return to sex work against her will and lead her to engage in substance abuse and contemplate suicide. Today, the Court of Appeal ruled that the law should not be temporarily suspended due to constitutional concerns.

The BCCLA intervened in this appeal and argued that the law should be suspended because it violates the rights to life, liberty, and security of the person under s. 7 of the Charter. In particular, the BCCLA argued that s. 7 can protect positive socioeconomic rights. It submitted that the Court must protect positive rights in this case because the challenged law will cause serious hardship and the young adults who will lose benefits are extremely vulnerable.

Jessica Magonet, counsel for the BCCLA, states: “We are profoundly disappointed by the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision. It will deny critical socioeconomic benefits to many marginalized young adults in Alberta. The decision failed to recognize the profound impacts of the challenged law and assumed this law was in the public interest. That said, we are heartened that the Court adopted our argument that s. 7 of the Charter may protect positive rights. We hope this will open the door to more meaningful Charter protection for marginalized people in future cases.”

The BCCLA was represented by Joe Arvay, OC, OBC, QC of Arvay Finlay LLP and Jessica Magonet of the BCCLA.

The BCCLA’s factum is available here.

Media Contacts:

  • Jessica Magonet, counsel for the BCCLA, at 514-910-4769 or [email protected] (available for comment in English or French)