In recent news, Ottawa’s police Chief, Vern White has made some absurd statements with respect to drug dealing and welfare fraud. His force has decided to report a little over 100 drug dealers to welfare officials for fraud investigations in hopes of having them cut off social assistance. His views are portrayed in a manner that support the greater good of society by saying: “Our focus here, first of all, is to stop people from dealing drugs but secondly to ensure social assistance is provided to people for the right reasons and not for those people who continue to sell drugs and lie about their income”.
On the surface, this act appears to be appealing to the so-called tax payer, however if you glance beneath it seems that there is an ulterior motive. What impact would these sorts of headlines have? Is it really to scare the fraud out of other abusers? Is it to encourage the low-level dealers, who are likely barely surviving at the poverty level with their monthly social assistance cheque to cease taking in that extra cash under the table? Of course, fraud is never legal, but who in their right mind would report income from drug dealing. Some of these dealers may even be dealing to support a drug habit, a poverty stricken family, or even to cover a necessary medication not covered through a drug plan. Whatever the reason may be, threatening to cut their Ontario Works cheque is hardly fighting the war on drugs. Petty dealers are a dime a dozen.
The Chief may have an interesting strategy, but I hardly think he’s aiming at saving tax payer dollars. It seems that the real reason for this announcement is to coerce drug dealers into snitching on their suppliers. The president of the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa, Mark Ertel, makes an interesting assumption: “You can either become an informant for the Ottawa police or you can be reported for committing welfare fraud”. Article
Granted this might have some impact on the drug epidemic, but the means is through blackmail. Drug dealers may not be the most upstanding citizens; however this type of strategy leaves no room for assistance for these individuals who may be suffering from addiction. Additionally, these addicts who are reported for fraud may stop milking the system, but they may begin committing other crimes to make up for that lost money.
The money these dealers make from committing welfare fraud certainly pale in comparison to the money that flows through the hands of those controlling the drug trade.