Welfare fraud!

Mark Hasiuk strikes again. Unable to go after those on just regular old welfare, because those numbers have gone down, today he takes torch and pitchfork to those on Disability Assistance, specifically those on Disability Assistance in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

However, during that same 17-year span, welfare “disability” cases, folks deemed unemployable due to physical or mental maladies, increased every year from 22,167 to 94,986.

In the Downtown Eastside, the numbers loom larger. In 2000, only 1,720 neighbourhood residents received disability welfare compared to a whopping 4,255 in 2011. That’s a 247 per cent increase in 11 years. Disability cases now comprise the majority of welfare recipients in the neighbourhood.

For the overall provincial statistics, Hasiuk is probably referencing this document from the Ministry of Social Development. The document is separated into various sections, and I could quibble that he’s apparently chosen the lowest starting number from one section and paired it with the largest ending number from another for the largest growth possible (the Sept 2011 number for the column that starts with 22,167 for 1995 is 79,645 – not 94,986. But the Ministry hasn’t labelled what these sections are, so I’ll have to let that slide. I’m not sure where he’s getting the DTES numbers, but I’m sure it’s legit.

Of course, BC’s population has grown in that period so the growth isn’t actually 247% relatively speaking but, conceded, that alone doesn’t explain the rise. So, as Hasiuk says, what’s the deal? To him, it’s ancedotes and pop psychology:

But our increasingly self-obsessed culture, which assigns disease to every human condition, has lowered the bar.


Speaking anonymously to me, another ministry bureaucrat made the following observation: “Let’s be frank, the frontline workers are amazing people, and if they see somebody applying for income assistance who they really feel should be applying for disability, which is more money and more security, they really pull out the stops to help get that done.”

You see what’s he’s doing here. Frontline workers are putting people applying for regular income assistance on to Disability. Because, in their professional judgement, that’s what they should be on. Shocking! Oh sure, Hasiuk concedes they’re probably acting in good faith and all, but honestly…we really can’t have frontline workers exercising the sort of judgements they’ve been trained and charged to do. It’s, you know, fraudulent. Surely it’s time for the Minister to step and see what’s going on…oh…wait…what’s this?

In a report tabled in the B.C. legislature, Wayne Strelioff said the ministry of human resources pressed on with its review of disability recipients in 2002 without any proof that a great number of them were ineligible.

“The type of review process was not well thought-out,” Strelioff said in an interview. “The process was what we call a fast-track one that likely cost more than it should, and unnecessarily increased anxiety within a particularly vulnerable group of people.”

In the end, the government found only 400 people — less than one per cent of the ministry’s more than 62,000 disabled clients — were ineligible for assistance.

Of those, 40 reapplied and were granted disability status, and 314 began receiving other forms of government assistance.

Only 46 people had their cases closed entirely, the report said.

“The ministry did not achieve the significant cost savings it thought it would by doing the review, as almost all benefit recipients were found to meet the new eligibility requirements,” the report said….

The auditor says the government fast-tracked its review under the assumption “that a large number of recipients would fail to qualify, therefore losing their disability status, and the result would be significant cost-savings to government and taxpayers.”

The report says the government at various times estimated cutting anywhere from 6,100 to 9,700 people off disability rolls.

The government, however, never checked its assumption, “which, as the final outcome shows, was unfounded,” the report says.

-Kines, Lindsay. The Vancouver Sun 25 Feb 2004: (via Canadian Newstand)

Well…harumph. There goes the fraud angle. What now? Ah…

Government-sanctioned “disability,” when wrongly prescribed, epitomizes the soft bigotry of no expectations. It removes incentive, keeps poor people poor, dousing destinies with the stroke of a pen.

Remember, he’s not talking about able-bodied people who have been laid off. Or those with a medical condition. No, he’s talking about those “with a physical or mental impairment who is significantly restricted in his or her ability to perform daily living activities either “continuously or periodically for extended periods” and, as a result of these restrictions, requires assistance with daily living activities.”

Come on Downtown Eastsiders, it’s all in your head!



  1. Sixth Estate

    Interesting to see them cite Herrnstein. That book said that intelligence is genetically based and that the fundamental social problem is that poor people are having too many babies.

  2. Pingback: Why Are Canada’s Welfare And Unemployment Agencies Allowed To Cut A Recipients Assistance Based Soley On Annonomous Caller Information? | Archemdis's Blog