Diet supplement: Patchwork on program

Posted on December 2, 2010 in Social Security Debates

Source: — Authors: – Opinion/Editorials
Published On Thu Dec 02 2010.

The Liberal government at Queen’s Park has rightly resisted pressure to scrap a special diet supplement for welfare recipients. But it has moved to tighten access to the $250 monthly supplement in the wake of a report from the auditor general that found evidence of fraud in the program, which ballooned from a budget of $6 million in 2003 to more than $200 million in 2008.

Under the new rules announced this week, numerous medical conditions will no longer qualify for the special diet allowance. But many of the remaining conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, will qualify for larger amounts to enable people to manage their illnesses with healthier diets. That’s important for them and for our health care budget.

Saying that “the taxpayers deserve more accountability,” Madeleine Meilleur, minister of community and social services, has also introduced a more onerous application process for the supplement. Unfortunately, that will make it more difficult not only for the crooks but also for recipients who are genuinely suffering from illnesses and are entitled to additional support.

As a temporary solution, the changes are not bad. But it will be up to the newly appointed social assistance review panel to devise a long-term solution that deals with the troubling reality that our welfare rates are simply too low for recipients to buy healthy food.

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