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.
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.)