Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale

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Amounts owed to the Ministère

Spousal responsibilities (Solidarity of claims)

Barring certain exceptions, spouses are jointly and severally liable for claim repayment under last-resort financial assistance programs. The total amount is claimed from both spouses, whether benefits were paid to the recipient as an independent adult or a family. Both people, whether they continue to live together as a couple or not, are liable for the claim until it has been repaid in full.

When a claim is issued on the grounds that a couple failed to declare they were cohabiting as spouses, the spouse who was not receiving benefits is also liable.

However, individuals who can prove that they were unaware of their spouse’s actions that led the Ministère to issue a claim are not liable.

Similarly, individuals who can prove that it was impossible for them to declare their true circumstances because they feared violent retribution from their spouse for themselves or their dependent child(ren) are not liable. Applications for exemption must be filed with the Centre de communication avec la clientèle. These applications are treated confidentially and exclude the violent spouse.

The following are considered spouses:

  • Persons who are married or in a civil union with each other and who cohabit
  • Persons of opposite sex or the same sex who cohabit and who are the parents of a child, unless they establish that their cohabitation is temporary and results from exceptional circumstances related to a serious health problem of one of them or of one of their children
  • Persons of full age of the opposite or the same sex who live together in a de facto union and who, at any one time, cohabited for a period of not less than one year
Last update: 2022-02-21 Top of Page


Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale.

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