Policing welfare fraud in Manitoba : an examination of current anti-fraud measures

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Remillard, Loren Albert
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The issue of welfare fraud has received much attention throughout Canada in recent years. Many provinces now have anti-fraud measures, such as investigation units, to deal with what has been perceived to be an increasing problem within modern welfare systems. Recently, the current Manitoba government instituted two such anti-fraud measures: an investigation unit and a welfare fraud phone hot-line. It is the purpose of this thesis to examine the necessity of these policing measures and the impact they have had thus far on welfare recipients, the public and the government. This is done, first, through an examination of available statistics and information on the extent of welfare fraud in Manitoba. Second, each measure is examined in terms of it's staff structure, procedures, start-up costs and reported savings. Third, the impact of the measures will be explored to determine whether they have had a beneficial or harmful effect for welfare recipients, the public and the government. Upon completion of this investigation, it was found that, while measuring the precise extent of welfare fraud is impossible, available statistics in Manitoba and other provinces suggest that welfare fraud is not as serious a problem as previously thought. In actuality, statistics in Manitoba suggest that welfare fraud occurs in less than one percent of the total provincial welfare caseload. With regards to the welfare policing measures, it was found that the savings attributed to each are relatively insignificant while the impact they have had on welfare recipients has been harmful. It is recommended that the welfare fraud phone hot-line be dismantled. However, the investigation unit was found to be necessary to prevent possible future growth of welfare fraud. It is recommended that the investigation unit be revamped to address the negative impact it has been found to have on welfare recipients.