Monday, March 10, 2008

Municipal Affairs

Municipal politics in Canada tend to be a tricky situation, all told. This is primarily due to the method by which municipalities originate; they do not have, unlike provinces or the federal government, any constitutional legitimacy. Rather, municipalities are created by enabling legislation passed by the province.

Indeed, this puts municipalities in a very tricky situation- they have no inherent powers of their own. Their only authority derives from the province, and as a result, the province has the ability to (and does) override actions of municipalities when it feels the need to do so.

It also leads to the disturbing trend of 'downloading'- the province offloading responsibility for funding and providing services, like for example, social services or schools, to municipalities. Technically speaking, this is nothing more than a smokescreen; the actual legislative responsibility has not changed. Instead, the provincial legislature, in creating the appearance of an elected third level of municipal government, has attempted to 'mask', to some extent, its involvement in these programs. Of course, as an agent of the provincial government, the municipality is nothing of the sort- there are only two levels of constitutionally defined government.

To digress as to why this is important, it's important to realize that nations are entities, that is they owe no higher allegiance and have an exclusive right to governance inside their sphere. In a federal system (as opposed to a unitary system), sovereignty is divided between an overarching body and numerous lesser political bodies; for example, the United States of America and the individual states or Canada and the individual provinces. There may be some level of overlap, which is always a tricky situation and requires definition by the courts, but strictly speaking, there is no sharing of powers- powers belong to one or the other, unless the sovereign entity has declared itself to be sharing them. The only two groups of sovereign bodies in Canada are the provinces and the federal government- and only those two groups have exclusive right to governance inside their sphere. The municipality only governs under the authority of the provincial government.

What it does allow, however, is for the provincial government to somewhat immunize itself from public fallout. For example; suggest that the Province of Ontario decides to download education to the municipalities. Make no mistake; education is still a provincial responsibility, but as the municipality is a delegate of the province’s authority, the province is still ‘dealing’ with the issue. At this point, the province can strike all taxes pertaining to education, and it is up to the municipalities to both manage education and to institute taxes to provide for it.

With an elected municipal government, this may result in a nasty backlash against the municipality if it is forced to institute property taxes to pay for education, a backlash that may not exist against the province; and if the schools are mismanaged, similarly, the responsibility in the public eye tends to fall upon the municipality.

Actually, however, the municipality only has the power to tax as an agent of the province, and only has the power to act as an agent of the province. Indeed, any backlash directed against it is directed against the province as the two former is nothing more than an agent of the latter. But in the world of realpolitik and public perception, the two cannot be more different.

Realistically speaking, of course, this apparent division of labor only tends to make things worse, as any survivor of Mike Harris’s Ontario government can attest to. But it is one of the most misunderstood concepts in municipal governance these days, and is perhaps over utilized for exactly that reason.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I had never previously paid much attention to the system in this regard before.

"it's important to realize that nations are entities, that is they owe no higher allegiance and have an exclusive right to governance inside their sphere."

So then obviously Canada is not a nation. Isn't it time we lose that pesky colonial link?

And finally, while this was actually extremely interesting to read, I was somewhat startled to find it ended when it did. It felt like you were setting yourself up to deliver a point that never arrived.

Ron Payne said...

Ontario Works (welfare) is a municipal run program that is govern by provincial law, and it is broken.

This was sent to the Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty, the Minister of Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Hamilton city councilor Bernie Morelli, via e-mail on Feb 24 08.

My question to you and to myself is how do they get away with the callous and unjust manner that workers approach their clients with, at Ontario Works, ODSP and even the Social Benefits Tribunal?

The answer is very simple. BECAUSE THEY CAN

For the record I would like to state, I have seen many improvements to the SBT since a change of it’s Chair and I expect to see many more. I can’t say the same for Ontario Works and ODSP.

The research shows when clients have contact with workers the response is not always the same. You could ask three different workers the same question and receive three different answers.

If the worker doesn't especially like you, they will simply ignore you. This means things like no return phone calls, ignoring verbal requests for benefits, requesting more than usual documents be brought in to prove eligibility and so on.

If the worker really doesn't like you, they will often do everything in their power to harass, intimidate and frustrate you into giving up and going away. This means things like ignoring written requests for benefits, telling you that the benefit doesn’t exist, denying benefits when you are entitled and no decision letters and so on.

If the worker does like you, they will give you any of the benefits that you ask for if you entitled. This is only if the worker is aware of the benefits requested. Here is an interesting problem. The vast majority of the workers are not aware of benefits that are available. This even includes some of the excellent workers. Another problem is that the fast majority of clients don’t even know what the benefits are.

********All clients must document, tape record and video record everything, every time when dealing with any OW or ODSP staff. ********

The governments must, as a gesture of good will, give all Ontario Works and ODSP clients a written copy of the benefits that they say clients are entitled.

This would be a first concrete step taken to start the process in eliminating poverty.

Ontario Works Directive # 31.0 found at http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/pillars/social/ow-directives/ow_policy_directives.htm or the:

Ontario Disability Support Program Directives #s 9.1 to 9.19 Found at http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/pillars/social/odsp-is-directives/ODSP_incomesupport.htm

The only real remedy to this problem is for clients to sue their respective governments. For Ontario Works it would be their local municipal government and the Province of Ontario and for ODSP it would be the Province of Ontario.

In the Ontario Works Act it states No personal liability

77.(1)No action or other proceeding in damages shall be instituted against the Ministry, the Director, a delivery agent, an officer or employee of any of them or anyone acting under their authority for any act done in good faith in the execution or intended execution of a duty or authority under this Act or for any alleged neglect or default in the execution in good faith of any duty or authority under this Act.

In the Ontario Disability Support Program it states No personal liability

58. (1) No action or other proceeding in damages shall be instituted against the Ministry, the Director or a delivery agent, an officer, employee of any of them or anyone acting under their authority for any act done in good faith in the execution or intended execution of a duty or authority under this Act or for any alleged neglect or default in the execution in good faith of any duty or authority under this Act. 1997, c. 25, Sched. B, s. 58 (1).

This means that a client could sue for damages if bad faith could be proven.

It is called bad faith; a person who intentionally tries to deceive or mislead another in order to gain some advantage.

It is called willful blindness or willful deceit.

The government must get rid of the discretionary powers it allows workers in the OW and OSSP, Act, Regulations and Directives.

You’re either entitled to benefits or your not. It is extremely simple but the government will not do it until it gets sued for Bad Faith.

It’s so simple; all the government has to do is to look at how the federal government implements its Employment Insurance application process, and they are saving millions.

To receive benefits you must go online to apply, with exceptions for some disabled clients. You fill out a simple template and the next thing you experience is a cheque in the mail. If the federal government trusts us why can’t you?

Ron Payne
Welfare Legal
Hamilton, Ontario.
E-mail welfarelegal2004@hotmail.com

Ron Payne said...

As soon as you think you have it all figured out.

WHO IS REALLY COMMITTING THE FRAUD AROUND HERE

The general public has no idea what the system is really like. They think fraud is ramped in Ontario Works and ODSP. Here is something to think about and it is just the tip of the iceberg according to our research.
The provincial government says welfare fraud is around 2%.
Who is really committing the fraud around here?
The federal government says income tax fraud is 13%

Ontario Works staff charged in $1.3million Fraud
By Sarah Elizabeth Brown Tuesday March 4,2008
Chronicle Journal http://tbay.ok.bc.ca/stories.php?id=95704

Government ODSP worker charged in $585,000 fraud case.
By SooToday.com Staff Wednesday, November 14, 2007
SooToday
http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/full_story.asp?StoryNumber=28485
http://odsp.blogspot.com/2007/11/former-government-worker-charged-in.html

93.7 million dollars in corporate welfare
Linda Leatherdale March 7,2008
http://money.canoe.ca/Columnists/Leatherdale/2008/03/07/4938021-sun.html
http://theoldcraftsman.com/blog/?p=387#comment-174
Premier Dalton McGuity is handing over a 9.7 million dollar corporate welfare cheque to Kellogg. Kellogg’s profit was $1 billion. Also Ford got a $55 million cheque and is now cutting shifts, while GM got $29million and is also cutting shifts.

$150 million called corporate welfare for a profitable industry.
Rob Ferguson January 10, 2008
Queens Park Bureau http://www.thestar.com/Business/article/292631
The Ontario Government has earmarked $150 million to encourage pharmaceutical companies to do more drug research and manufacturing in the province.

Ron Payne
Welfare Legal
Hamilton, Ontario
E-mail welfarelegal2004@hotmail.com

Ron Payne said...

Media Release

The Evidence Is In

Poverty’s Smoke and Mirrors, Part 2

To see part 1 http://www.special-need-child-canada.com/povertys-smoke-and-mirrors.html

The article above went out to the main media and approximately 65 other print news media starting September 21 2008. It was also put on the World Wide Web.

To my knowledge it was only printed in 3 Ontario news papers in the Letters to the Editor section.
1) Hamilton’s, Mountain News
2) Hamilton’s, Stoney Creek News
3) London’s, The London Free Press

Thank you to these three papers for caring enough about people that live in poverty to print this article.

As of today November 06 2008 the Ontario government has only posted old outdated directives dated Sept 2001.
http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/pillars/social/directives/ow_policy_directives.html

Obviously these directives are of no use to anyone simply because of the fact they are outdated and the ministry is now using the July 2008 up to date directives but has not shared them with the public.

You may remember Welfare Legal was so offended by this abuse we offered $100.00 to anyone that could produce a copy of the latest Ontario Works directive 7.4.

As of this date no one has collected the $100.00. Welfare Legal now has a copy of the new directives that the government has not shared.

We take the position that this is the most serious kind of abuse by our government to implement new policies but not allow those most in need to have access to them. The only reason the government has given for this abuse is that the Ontario Government has not prepared a French version of these directives.

This is a Human Rights violation, among others, to implement a secrete version of the directives and not share them with the public and not to have a French version available.

As we have stated before the Ontario government has in fact been cutting the benefits of Ontario Works, (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program, (ODSP) recipients without letting the general public aware of these cuts.

The latest cuts that have become public are the cuts to benefits to grandparents that are caring for their own grandchildren, who many had, have been apprehended by the Children’s Aid Society (CAS). The grand parent’s complaints were heard loud and clear the government seems to have withdrawn these policy changes.

The new directive 7.4 and others shows more cuts that the public is not aware of yet.

One of these cuts shows that the Ontario government no longer supports volunteering here in Ontario. In the old outdated directives dated September 2001, the government used to give a small benefit to those recipients that had to do volunteer work as a condition of eligibility for OW. These cuts also affect those who wish to do volunteer work and are disabled on ODSP as well.
Are volunteers no longer needed here in Ontario?

These cuts which are ongoing, have been made to help pay for the meager increases to OW and ODSP of 2%. They are also part of the government’s bigger plan, to upload the cost of OW and ODSP from the municipality to the province and to pay for its poverty reduction strategy.

At the end of the day the government will save millions of dollars in benefits that the former Mike Harris Tories said people on OW and ODSP were entitled to. Does this make sense to anyone?

This story gets much, much worse. It turns out that the aboriginal community in Ontario had the foresight not to allow its members to be subjected to the policies and procedures put in place by the Mike Harris government, when they bought the draconian computer program from Anderson Consulting now Accenture. The cost of that program was $400,000.00 and rising. This program was designed to cut people off of benefits automatically, with no human contact. There seems to be 2 classes of people being governed differently here, and what are the costs?

It would seem they were allowed to have their own computer program made up by a private company called AD Morrison.
http://www.admorrison.com/

A private professional researcher contacted Welfare Legal in an attempt to collect the $100.00 offered for the latest Ontario Works directive 7.4 and alerted us to a Pandora’s Box. You will see on the home page of AD Morrison’s site there is a link to “Latest Directives”. This link contained a third set of OW directives that was not available to the general public.

After Welfare Legal contacted the ministry to see if this in fact was the latest and new directive 7.4, the ministry contacted us with a reply that had nothing to do with our request. Then out of the blue this link was taken of the site.

After gathering all the evidence we soon learned that the Ontario government had not been keeping these new directive from the public since July 2008, they had in fact been hiding them starting in December 2005 and no one new about it. At least no one that has come forward so far.

There has been no response from any legal clinic or private paralegal in Ontario showing that they new about this breach of the Human Rights Code by our provincial government. If anyone was aware of this why didn’t they take it to the media? Does nobody care about this abuse? Does nobody care about eliminating poverty?

It is interesting to note that the government has even changed the directive numbers to confuse us even more once we were allowed to become aware of them.

September 2001 shows directive 31.0, the out dated benefits that we all are aware of.

December 2005 shows
7.3 is EMPLOYMENT AND PARTICIPATION BENEFITS
7.4 is COMMUNITY START UP AND MAINTENANCE BENEFIT

July 2008 shows
7.4 is EMPLOYMENT AND PARTICIPATION BENEFITS
7.5 is COMMUNITY START UP AND MAINTENANCE BENEFIT

For a copy of these directives
http://owcorruption.blogspot.com/

How can the Ontario government say it is attempting to alleviate poverty when it is secretly cutting the benefits of those most in need? (Reverse Robin Hood)

Ron Payne
Welfare Legal
Hamilton, Ontario
Phone 905-253-0205
E-mail welfarelegal2004@hotmail.com
Blog http://welfarelegal.blogspot.com/