Pubdate: Thu, 16 Nov 2000
Source: Penticton Herald (Canada)
Copyright: 2000 - Horizon Operations (B.C.) Ltd.
Contact:  101-186 Naniamo Ave. West Penticton, B.C., Canada, V2A 1N4
Fax: 1-250-492-2403


Politicians Should Also Have To Pass Drug Tests To Collect Cash

The Ontario government is perpetuating the myth of welfare bums with its
controversial plan to force recipients to undergo drug tests.

Social Services Minister John Baird insists the plan is designed to help
drug addicts rather than punish them.

Out the one side of his mouth, Baird says the Ontario government "is not
prepared to simply turn its back and write anyone off."

Yet, out the other side, he threatens that individuals who test positive
and then refuse treatment would be ineligible for assistance. It's an
ultimatum: get off drugs now or we'll throw you into the street.

He's obviously in a hurry. The proposal is subject to a six-week
consultation process during which the province will meet with
municipalities and legal experts to hammer out details.

Ontario does face an uphill battle in trying to implement the plan.
Ontario's Human Rights' Commissioner Keith Norton warned last year that
drug users cannot be denied welfare because addiction problems are
considered a handicap under the province's Human Rights Code.

And in July, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that drug/alcohol abusers
cannot be discriminated against.

The second strike against the proposal is Ontario's existing rehabilitation
programs, which are already stretched to the limit.

Baird is apparently aware that his proposal would require a significant
cash commitment for drug treatment.

His intentions are brutally apparent: he can pay for those new programs by
kicking some of the 450,000 recipients off welfare.

Of course, Ontario MLAs should not collect their taxpayer-funded salaries
unless they too pass drug tests.

Surely, Ontario voters don't want their politicians on drugs. What's good
for welfare bums is good for Queen's Park.
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MAP posted-by: Eric Ernst