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Flashback: B.C. government passes law delaying welfare for new immigrants Add to ...

15 YEARS AGO… (Oct. 2-8, 1996)

Welfare waiting period remains, despite court ruling

Less than a week after a court decision struck down the province’s controversial residency requirement for welfare recipients, the NDP government passed a new law giving B.C. legal authority to deny people social assistance until they have lived here for three months.

On Thursday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Spencer ruled that the province overstepped its authority when it imposed the welfare waiting period in November of 1995.

However, the judge added that the province could grant itself the power to delay welfare benefits for new arrivals by amending the legislation that covers welfare in B.C.

The previous law allowed the province to refuse welfare for a variety of reasons but made no reference to the amount of time an applicant has lived in the province.

That loophole is now addressed under the new law, the B.C. Benefits Act, which was passed but not proclaimed into law earlier this year.

Anti-poverty activists challenged the residency requirement in court, claiming it violates constitutional guarantees outlined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Flash forward: B.C. agreed to drop the residency requirement in March of 1997 in exchange for $67-million in federal funding to help cover the cost of settling immigrants.

25 YEARS AGO… (Oct. 2-8, 1986)

Longshoremen locked out over container clause

B.C.’s shipping industry ground to a halt Monday after the B.C. Maritime Employers Association locked out more 3,700 longshoremen over a contentious contract clause that deals with the loading and unloading of container cargo.

Association negotiator Norm Cunningham blamed the lockout on the union’s refusal to surrender a clause that gives union members the right to pack and unpack containers instead of allowing them to be delivered to their final destinations intact.

Mr. Cunningham said the clause, in place since 1970, has given U.S. ports a competitive advantage over B.C., adding that the lockout was necessary to break the impasse with the union.

“We’ve been negotiating for 12 months,” he said. “This thing has to be brought to a conclusion.”

Dan Cole, secretary-treasurer of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehouseman’s Union, said about 125 jobs would be lost if the cargo-packing clause is eliminated.

CN Rail issued layoff notices to about 900 workers in B.C. and Alberta Tuesday as the economic ripple effect of the ports shutdown began to spread.

Flash forward: The federal government passed back-to-work legislation in mid-November to end the strike. The container clause remained in place until Jan 1, 1987.

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