The War Comes Home

Harper EI house calls

900ftJesus has some important questions for the Privacy Commissioner re: the new Harpercon plan to randomly audit EI clients for *gasp* fraud, via taxpayer-subsidized bureaucratic fishing expeditions (House calls? REALLY?):

What information are federal employees told to gather through house visits?

How is this information gathered? (silent observation, questions, questioning and/or observing people other than the client at the home?

What information is included on any reports given to HRDC?

What is the format of this information?

To what use is this information put? How is the information applied?

What privacy rating is assigned to this information?

Who has access to this information?

Where, how, and for how long is this information stored?

What training have employees who gather the information, and employees who have access to it received in privacy issues and security issues?

What information is given to the clients prior to a visit and during a visit concerning information that will be gathered?

What privacy considerations are specifically given to non-EI claimants sharing the home being visited?

Make no mistake: the Harper government is trying to do to EI recipients what its ideological predecessors, the Harris Reformatories, did to welfare recipients in Ontario in the 90s: demonize based on demonstrative appeals to self-aggrandizing Ford Nation assumptions about freeloaders (who, btw, were not, in fact, committing fraud willy-nilly back in the day, unless one contorts meaning into Gordian knots). Of course, EI != welfare. As 900ftJesus notes, “EI recipients are clients [emph. mine]. They have paid their insurance premiums and are clients, making insurance claims.”

Which is of course the overall point of the egregious Harpercon house call exercise: to dramatically shift Canadian perceptions on how we frame and view EI, until the lines between client and recipient (ie, leech) have been sufficiently blurred.

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