Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Privatization of Welfare in BC

There are many in the Province who are well aware that the BC Liberals have been in the process of privatizing the income assistance system over the past 7 years in office. It has often been incremental and under the radar of most people.

When the citizens of BC look back in years to come to see where things went so horribly wrong, they will not have too hard a time figuring it out. They need solely to look at Gordon Campbell and his merry band of scalawags, pickpockets and scoundrels to see how we lost it all and why we are suffering so, some of us more than others.

The latest scandal in the making – the impending privatization of the welfare system (aka income assistance). Interesting to note that the BC government has NOT announced their new $17.9 million contract with Haley Ltd. a multi-national company that specializes in information technology that will “upgrade” and introduce a new integrated case management system to “modernize” the social welfare system. In case you weren’t sure, in the parlance of globalization, “modernize” is synonymous with privatize.

Those working in the system have known for several years now (7 to be exact) that they were being phased out and slowly the system was being sliced, diced and privatized. Through the Machiavellian “evolution” of “alternative service delivery” the system shifted from the mandate of providing income assistance to those who need it, to routinely denying people access to basic human rights. As we all know, the sky high and rapid increase in homeless citizens has reached epic proportions in BC, with estimates that there are approximately 20,000 people in BC homeless. This includes children, youth, families, the mentally ill, addicted, the disabled, seniors and many others. And, amidst the “economic boom” and highflying spin of 2010, BC leads the country in child poverty for the 5th year in a row! This is directly related to Gordon Campbell and his government’s policy shifts and systemic changes and it hurts us all. Wait until we get the bill for the Olympics.

Make no mistake, this government hasn’t been interested in “welfare reform,” in increasing accountability, improving the service delivery system, or “modernization.” This is simply yet one more pathway to lining someone’s pockets (the money never stays in BC) and tying BC to a multi-national corporation that will do whatever the hell they want with “our” people, their personal and private information and their lives.

It hasn’t been enough to exclude and introduce so many barriers to accessing income assistance that about 75% of homeless respondents identify that as the number one reason they are homeless, now, the BC Liberals are looking to find ways to exclude even more people.

In the Ministry of Employment & Income Assistance (MEIA) they did away with caseloads, where some of the most marginalized, disabled and vulnerable people in society now have to navigate automated phone trees to talk to someone, none of whom know anything about their situation. Imagine what that is like, if you have a mental illness, are disabled, or are an abused wife and mother fleeing a violent husband. Or a victimized refugee, or person who doesn’t speak English.

One should also relate the latest offense to the public interest, the (secret, closed door) Order in Council (OIC-, that changes the provincial policy of CLBC to enshrine the human rights violation of preventing developmentally disabled citizens from accessing support services if their IQ is over 70 within the larger context of this welfare privatization. With all of the changes and barriers that have been implemented, the homeless, the deaths, the BC Liberals have not been able to get "the numbers" on the "welfare rolls" down enough. They need to find other ways. These actions also flow directly out the Court of Appeal in the Fahlman case, that ruled that using IQ 70 as a determining factor in gatekeeping CLBC services is arbitrary and struck that down. This issue should be back in court, or the BC Human Rights Tribunal before anyone blinks an eye. This is clearly discrimination against the provision of services to people with disabilities and an arbitrary decision on how the Crown agency will mete out services. This includes health and employment. If you can't get CLBC services, you can't access their employment services as a PWD and possibly receive employment.

You know all those developmentally disabled children, youth and their families thay have not received any services from CLBC, while the top 5 senior executives made $900,000 in compensation, including incentive bonuses - that's all part of this too. If you don't keep a waitlist for services you have no record of citizens who meet the criteria for service. No paper trail and a "clean" slate so when the adults only hope of getting income assistance and the pittance more for disability is privatized. And, once the welfare kiosks are set up in the mall, I'm sure they will be rather challenging for many citizens to manage, the disabled, amongst those. And, if this wasn't all enough, instead of actually funding services to needy individuals and families, the BC government & CLBC are jointly funding employment programs to disabled folks to move them out of educational programs and into employment. Not a bad idea of course, however, when people's basic human rights and needs aren't even being met, the spending of public funds in this way is unconscionable.

Cynically, one might surmise that a move toward even more technology and less human contact will help get the numbers down even more. No more of those human vagaries to deal with, those hardworking and caring people in the welfare offices who creatively find ways and solutions to help people get income assistance and stay on it. Once the welfare kiosks are set up in the malls, or wherever they put them, there won’t be anymore need for the human factor that is sometimes the only thing standing between life and death. Citizens will simply have to fill in the appropriate box and they either qualify, or they don’t. Hmmm, wonder how many will now be excluded and what will happen to them?

Haley counts the following as among its’ strategic partners: Oracle, SAP, IBM, Microsoft and Lagan. And you’ll have to excuse our apprehension and even fear about the fact that a multi-national corporation, allied with a number of other powerful transnational corporations, now based in Washington, DC will have unrestricted access to the most confidential and private information about every citizen in BC. Most citizens do not know that the BC government database contains virtually every single citizen’s name and highly confidential information about them, whether they’ve been on welfare or not. Your date of birth, social insurance number, medical number, refugee status, whether you’ve had a child protection file, how long that was open, and everyone attached to you as family member.

The immensity of the prospect that all of our private data will be flowing into the United States may be overlooked, or unknown to most of us (that which hasn’t already gone there). As one of those of a growing contingent worried about the increasing speed at which our civil liberties, privacy and sovereignty as a nation are eroding this is a truly frightening new development that impacts our entire province and every single citizen. This isn’t simply about our welfare system being privatized, I would go one step further and say this privatization scheme is rapidly moving “us” all one step closer to the North American Union (NAU) and it certainly ties in with the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).

This doesn’t sound like much of a stretch at all when we see that Oracle, Microsoft, IBM and Siebel Systems (also affiliated with the BC government) are all members of Infragard, the corporate infrastructure elite that works with the Department of Homeland Security “for the exchange of knowledge, experience and information related to the protection of our nation’s critical infrastructure from both physical and cyber threats.” One look at Infragard’s event calendar for the past three years and big questions come to mind about what kind of threat these folks are preparing so vigorously for and if things are so bad, why aren’t citizens of all nations being told?

The underground media is adamant that there is going to be a major event this fall and martial law will be declared before 2008 is over. I don’t know about that, but what I do know is that the US government, Canadian and BC governments are moving fast to outsource and privatize Canadian information, new laws and secret deals are being signed with transnational corporations, that are seeing our democratic rights and those of our neighbours’ are being flushed down the toilet faster than we possibly understand. Regime change is close at hand at the American election, at least that is the hope.

The implications are very, very clear. Once this contract starts rolling out, BC’s entire welfare system will be in the hands of a multi-national corporate entity that is based in the corridor of power, in Washington, DC. Ground zero for the Project for a New American Century, the leaders of which openly openly advocate for total global military and civil domination of all nations by an elite group that stands above all and owns all global resources and has ever global citizen at its’ mercy.

This is not some “wingnut” conspiracy theory, it’s happening as you read this. Look at the dramatic and unexplainable increase in oil, the devastation of the world’s food stock, the economic crisis in the United States and the global markets, which is much, much worse than the mainstream media are reporting. All of these dots connect and the picture they make is so frightening and bodes so poorly for all but those who own the resources and sit on top of their piles of money most of us will simply be swept under the wheels of the bus. Collateral damage in the plan for global domination.

It is time for all of us to take a stand here. Write to your MLA, to your MP and tell them you want answers about what the BC Liberals plans are for the income assistance system and for your personal and private information. Whether you've every been on welfare or not, the BC government holds vast records on most of us. Do you feel comfortable with this information flowing so freely across the border. We know we don't, because the Bush regime has made sure that under the Patriot Act, once your information is on American soil, they can do whether they want with it and you will never know. Ask yourself next time you are going to the States and your name is flagged and you are searched, or you are stopped from flying. How did they even get my name and why can't I fly?

British Columbia Taps Haley and Oracle to Modernize the Province's Social Welfare System
Significant North American Social Services Implementation of Oracle's Siebel Public Sector Client Relationship Management Suite of Products Will Use Haley Office Rules and Determinations Engine for Eligibility Processing and Benefits Delivery

Aid for mentally disabled adults cut if IQ over 70
'Interim' order quietly signed by premier, minister

Lindsay Kines, Times Colonist
Published: Thursday, July 24, 2008

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