Fwd: OW-WATCH-L Baird Feathers "Fraud" Figures

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Tue, 14 Dec 1999 12:16:01 -0500


-----------forwarded message----------
To: ow-watch-l@netserver.web.net
From: Ontario Coalition for Social Justice <ocsj@sympatico.ca>
Subject: OW-WATCH-L Baird Feathers "Fraud" Figures
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 11:58:14 -0500

This is going out today in response to the radio report yesterday and the
Committee on Public Accounts hearings this thursday. More to come.

Andrea

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Baird Feathers "Fraud" Figures
Only 1.7% of investigated cases result in conviction
representing 0.43 % of total caseload
Most "Savings" come from Disqualifying Vulnerable

Community and Social Services Minister John Baird boasts about $35 million
in "fraud savings".  Actually, most of those "savings" have come not from
fraud, but from their own administrative errors and disqualifying vulnerable
people from assistance.

On closer examination of the Ministry's own documents, it appears Minister
Baird is playing fast and loose with the truth. There are two sets of
statistics, beyond criminal convictions, that have been dumped into Baird's
"fraud" category. Baird adds in cases of overpayment and administrative
benefit termination to inflate welfare "fraud".

As of November 1999, there were 251,052 cases, representing 553,686 people
who receive welfare assistance.

In 1997-1998, 61,653 cases were investigated for welfare fraud.  In 14,771
of those cases, the Ministry reduced the amount of the benefit as a result
of previous overpayment, or terminated the benefit altogether. But, there
were only 1,100 criminal convictions.  For the remaining 13,671 cases  over
90% - benefits were reduced or terminated because of an administrative
error, not fraud.

1 - Overpayments
Overpayments are not uncommon. They are administrative errors that occur
when a recipient is paid too much and the money is then deducted off of a
subsequent cheque. Many people receive a different amount, from month to
month, depending on a myriad of factors such as occasional work, child care
costs or child support payments, and these generate a lot of overpayments.
It's not fraud - it is an administrative error, and usually not the
recipient's fault. These are included in Baird's "fraud" statistics.

2 - Terminations through Consolidated Verification Project
When the Ministry talks of face-to-face interviews with 61,000 people, they
are talking about Andersen Consulting's Consolidated Verification Project
(CVP). The system is a rigorous review of every aspect of a recipient's
file.  For example, if a document is missing, whether it's two days old or
twenty years old, the recipient has to put the paperwork in order or get
kicked off welfare. Those that are kicked off would not be criminally
charged with fraud because they have done nothing wrong. However, the
government is counting them in their "fraud and misuse" statistics.

Consolidated Verification kicks Vulnerable People off Welfare

An upcoming Workfare Watch report has collected these three stories, among
others, illustrating how Consolidated Verification is used to kick people
off welfare.

First Case
A woman was cut off welfare because she could not produce a separation
agreement that was 20 years old.

Second Case (an example of third-party information sharing agreements)
A woman person was cut off welfare because she could not provide evidence of
how she had disposed of two cars in the early 1980's. Ministry of
Transportation records showed she owned two cars. Even through they were
disposed of years ago, she was found ineligible for welfare assistance.

Third Case
A paying boarder drives a woman's children to school using her car. The
boarder is deemed to be a spouse.  She and her children are kicked off welfare.

In these and thousands of similar cases people's welfare assistance was
reduced or terminated but no fraud ever occurred. However, each of these
cases would have been counted in the Ministry's fraud report. These are
Baird's "fraud" savings from kicking vulnerable people off welfare.

- 30 -

Andrea Calver, Coordinator, Ontario Coalition for Social Justice
work:  416-441-3714

Andrew Mitchell, Workfare Watch
work: 416-351-0095

-----------------------------------------
Ontario Coalition for Social Justice
#305-15 Gervais Drive, Don Mills, M3C 1Y8
Phone: 416-441-3714 Fax: 416-441-4073
www3.sympatico.ca/ocsj


Information about Ow-Watch-L at:
http://www.welfarewatch.toronto.on.ca/wrkfrw/welcome.html
Visit the Workfare Watch Project Website at:
http://www.welfarewatch.toronto.on.ca/