The War Comes Home (Redux)

Harper EI house calls

ICYMI: Regarding the previously open question, “what does the Harper government’s door-to-door EI Stasi unit want to know?”

Not too too much, just, y’know, everything:

Investigators with the Integrity Services Branch were provided with a 23-page manual, dated October 2012, outlining investigative techniques intended to be used in a pilot project starting in November and winding up at the end of March.

The document makes it clear the Service Canada employees are to leave no stone unturned in their inquiries, even in the absence of evidence that selected EI recipients had done anything wrong. The document suggests investigators check addresses, bank accounts, medical documents and even the physical appearance of claimants.

[…]

Investigators are told to seek out the claimants’ former employer, and to select a sample of five prospective employers the EI recipient says he or she sought out for work opportunities. A check is to be made that the claimant really did make a job request, and employers are to be asked whether the claimant said the job was not suitable and if so, what reasons were given.

One section says the address a former employer lists for the EI recipient is to be verified, and if there is “indication of (a) manipulated residential address, the integrity investigator may … obtain from the financial institution a record of all deposits, locations and withdrawals.”

[…]

Another section suggests a claimant’s photo should be verified, or their name checked on utility bills or lease agreements that presumably must be handed over. An employer can be asked to describe the “physical characteristics” of the person who worked for them to see whether the description matches the EI claimant.

In some cases, the investigative techniques seem to delve into the far corners EI claimants’ lives.

For claimants who are collecting maternity benefits that are part of the EI system, investigators are told to verify:

  • The child’s identity and parentage.
  • In some cases, “the maternal relationship to the claimant.”
  • Proof of the child’s birth, a date that can be compared to the “maternity window.”

[…]

NDP Opposition House Leader Nathan Cullen said Friday, “It seems somewhat hypocritical that they treat people who’ve lost their jobs as criminals, yet people in the Senate who may be committing fraud, they take a pinkie-swear and say that’s good enough. That they’re going door to door in a witch hunt manner after people on employment insurance, who sign a declaration every week and have to report every week what they’re doing — meanwhile, senators are milking Canadians for tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

What, no drawing blood — no stool samples? Pssh. Silly Opposition Cassandras — way to blow an “opportunity to know that this system is intact” WAY out of proportion..

Related: I’m old I remember when CBC (sorry — I mean, OUR STATE BROADCASTER!!1) used to investigate entirely unsupported claims like $334M “suspected” fraud cases, instead of blithely repeating them without question in a superficial, he-said-she-said play-by-play. Because everyone knows Tories would never, ever lie with brazen disregard about entitlement [sic] fraud running rampant [sic] in order to reap the political benefits of targeting (what they consider to be) a marginal class.

Never.

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