Pubdate: Tue, 22 May 2001
Source: Daily Press, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2001 Daily Press (CN ON)


The provincial governments decision to make drug testing mandatory for 
welfare recipients has some wondering if they're under the influence 

It's one of the most backwards things they could do, said Timmins-James Bay 
MPP Gilles Bisson. Its disgusting.

The provincial government resurrected a controversial plan recently to test 
Ontario's welfare recipients for drug and alcohol addictions. The Tories 
tried to introduce the plan last year. The measure will force addicted 
recipients to submit to treatment in order to get their cheques.

Our program will be mandatory and those who refuse treatment will cause 
themselves to be ineligible for welfare, Social Services Minister John 
Baird said.

The plan will be phased in beginning next year starting in three to five 
municipalities, then expanding to all 47 municipalities across Ontario over 
the following four years. The governments plan also includes mandatory 
literacy testing for those who receive welfare.

Temiskaming-Cochrane MPP David Ramsay said the government is just looking 
for someone to pick on.

It's about time we kicked those people again, said Ramsay. That must be 
what theyre thinking.

Ramsay said Harris likes to play politics.

He identifies groups in society people have very strong reactions to, said 
Ramsay. He plays to groups that support him by tweaking those issues.

Bisson agreed.

Its the belief of the conservative government that the majority of people 
resent welfare recipients, said Bisson. Theyre trying to tap into that.

Ramsay said Harris has been picking on teachers. But now hes looking for 
someone else.

Education seemed to be his target the last couple of years, said Ramsay. 
But hes gone too far. Its backfired and hes trying to draw attention away 
from that.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager