OTTAWA – The federal government’s crackdown on employment insurance claimants is a political game that creates a presumption of guilt, says NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.
The crackdown includes sending government inspectors to people’s homes and setting annual dollar targets for EI investigators to uncover fraud.
Mulcair says the government is trying to blame the victims, and that people who have paid into the system deserve to collect their benefits.
“We want Harper and his thugs to stop attacking the jobless,” Mulcair said at a morning news conference.
Human Resources Minister Diane Finley has vigorously denied that the fraud targets amount to quotas.
“Service Canada does not have quotas that would carry negative consequences for staff who fail to meet them,” Finley said in an email message on Wednesday. “They do however have performance targets to help protect the benefits of the unemployed from fraud.”
“Service Canada was able to stop almost a half billion dollars in ineligible payments last year, but the employment insurance program still lost hundreds of millions due to fraud,” Finley asserted.
Officials with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada say investigators were given a national target of $437 million last year to root out ineligible payments and fraud.
“This is consistent with previous years,” a departmental spokesman said in an email.
Mulcair dismisses the government’s claims.
“We’ve had our quota of the lying by the minister responsible for this file,” he said.