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800 rules and 26 million dollars

Awhile back I posted something about welfare cheating, which led to an interesting discussion in the comments about how extensive it might or might not be.

I just read an article on called The Poor-Bashing Bandwagon, by Jamie Swift.

Swift points out that:

1. Ontario’s social assistance recipients would need a 55% raise to bring their incomes back to the levels they were at in 1993, before Mike Harris’s Conservatives slashed welfare incomes.

2. Ontario’s welfare system has more than 800 rules and regulations that must be applied before a person’s eligibility and benefit level can be determined. The system is far too complicated to be explained to recipients.

3. A report for the Justice Department asserts that corporate crime, white collar fraud and tax evasion cost Ontario more than its entire welfare system each year. It added that, “More people cheat on their income taxes and lie about their cross-border shopping than defraud the welfare system.”

The article goes on to talk about how the Auditor General’s report claimed Ontario’s welfare system costs $5 billion, while overpayments amounted to $1.2 billion. Which actually does sound pretty bad, until you realize that the $5 billion is annual, while the $1.2 billion is cumulative all the way back to the early 90s. The fact that the annual overpayments are only about $26 million – and most of that is not even due to cheating – did not stop provincial Conservatives from calling welfare abuse a “billion-dollar boondoggle.”

(Hat-tip to The Canadian Social Research Guy, Gilles Seguin.)

6 comments to 800 rules and 26 million dollars

  • Sm

    This info is SO important in the coming months. It’s pretty clear that Harper will be aiming at cutting social programs, and that his religious viewpoint is such that you must have been bad to need help, so we really need to protect our social programs and convince the public that they are a huge benefit to the society at large.

  • I agree. Very important information. And why am I not surprised that problems arise when I see the words “Mike Harris” and “slashed incomes”?

  • “Overpayments” get repaid expediently all the time. I was considered to have an “overpayment” when my child support started and I got off welfare. They paid me for the month on the same day my child support started. So I got a letter saying it was an overpayment and I paid it back immeadiately.

    I hate the slimy way numbers get twisted by these hatemongers.

  • Gods, I am so tired of frakkin’ conservatives (worldwide) who are afraid that a little money might not make it in to their bank accounts and might instead to to help someone who isn’t already rich. Most of the money lost from the public till comes from tax fraud, which is largely committed by wealthy people, so of course they want to distract the public from their own bad deeds by pointing out the evils of welfare cheats, or gay people, or drug addicts, or … well, you know. I’m preachin’ to the choir here. Too bad the people who need to think about this kind of thing won’t let themselves be exposed to it. Sigh.

  • Jen G

    I agree with the comments above. And with such a fragmented ‘left’ in Canada, who is going to target white collar crime with equivalent focus and intensity?

  • Lily H.

    Has anyone here heard of Eloise Anderson? She was the head of HHS in the state of Wisconsin, then California, then heard she’d migrated north to Canada to run a company called Job Wave, aimed at poor Canadians. Any word would be appreciated. Thanks