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Employment Insurance whistleblower suspended without pay


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An honest public servant with a conscience.

A federal fraud investigator has been suspended without pay, after she leaked documents showing that investigators had to cut people off their employment insurance benefits in order to meet quotas.

"It just was against my values, harassing claimants trying to penalize them in order to save money for the government. We had quotas to meet every month," Therrien said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/07/20/bc-ei-whistleblower-suspended.html?autoplay=true

This woman should not have been fired... She should have gotten an award. What ever happened to protecting whistleblowers?

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Guest Derek L
Why would she receive “whistleblower protection”? It’s common knowledge that at various levels of Government, both Federal and Provincial, there are fraud investigators. Would you be up in arms to learn that the CRA investigates tax cheats and your Provincial Workers Compensation Board investigates suspicious claimants?


At the end of the day, she signed a declaration not to go public with Government information…….and now suspended after her “brave act” ,she desires to go back to work for her self-deemed employer that requires her to perform tasks against her “values”………Maybe if she doesn’t get reinstated, she can apply for benefits.
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An honest public servant with a conscience.

This woman should not have been fired... She should have gotten an award. What ever happened to protecting whistleblowers?

It appears this woman was hired to ferret out EI cheats and cheating the government was not against her "values". Unfortunately there are too many in the public "service" who think that ripping off the government is quite okay. If her employers has determined a goal of $500,000 is a reasonable target you can bet a $1,000,000 target would be attainable were they working in the private sector. After all, we wouldn't want our civil servants to be over-worked or find too may cheaters would we?

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IF the feds have to make cuts because of their own actions on spending, then they should have led by example and taken cut on their own wages and benefits instead of waiting to bring that forth until after then next election! The Tories always cover their own backsides and to hell with Canadians. Those people who are on EI are there because they lost their jobs and the feds gave it to them and the Tories have a thing about seasonal workers on EI and yet they are making 160,000-250,000 yearly and say no to other Canadians, who really need the money for food and bills. Shame, its beyond shame.

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Why would she receive “whistleblower protection”? It’s common knowledge that at various levels of Government, both Federal and Provincial, there are fraud investigators.

Do you actually think that her revelation was that fraud investigators exist? This kind of ridiculous strawman is way below you.
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It appears this woman was hired to ferret out EI cheats and cheating the government was not against her "values". Unfortunately there are too many in the public "service" who think that ripping off the government is quite okay. If her employers has determined a goal of $500,000 is a reasonable target you can bet a $1,000,000 target would be attainable were they working in the private sector. After all, we wouldn't want our civil servants to be over-worked or find too may cheaters would we?

Let me ask you something. You pay car insurance or home insurance, right? How would you feel if you found out that your insurance company was denying claims, not necessarily because they warranted it, but because they had a monthly quota of denials to make? You would probably switch companies, right? EI is job-loss protection insurance for both employees (so they have money while they look for a job) and for employers (as part of the terms, employees cannot sue employers when they lose their jobs). It's not a universal social welfare program. You are only eligible for it if you work and pay into it.
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Guest Derek L

Do you actually think that her revelation was that fraud investigators exist? This kind of ridiculous strawman is way below you.

Perhaps not that they exist, but what their purpose is……..Yes, I think some are surprised.
I’ve yet to see any evidence to suggest that those that lost benefits were not justifiable cases……so what if there was a quota? Is that any different then the local police force ramping up minor tickets near the end of the fiscal year?
As an above poster mentioned, is their any possible evidence to suggest that the mentioned quotas could not have been increased? Also, in the reported article, it’s mentioned that her issues with her work were disturbing people at home……To me, it sounds as if she doesn’t have the stomach for the job.
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Guest Derek L

Let me ask you something. You pay car insurance or home insurance, right? How would you feel if you found out that your insurance company was denying claims, not necessarily because they warranted it, but because they had a monthly quota of denials to make? You would probably switch companies, right? EI is job-loss protection insurance for both employees (so they have money while they look for a job) and for employers (as part of the terms, employees cannot sue employers when they lose their jobs). It's not a universal social welfare program. You are only eligible for it if you work and pay into it.

You just mentioned strawmen, there is no evidence (or claim from the report) that they were cutting people off unjustly.

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The real story looks more like this:

"The department was able to stop half a billion dollars in ineligible payments last year," Finley replied, "but the employment insurance system still lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to fraud. If the Opposition stops us rooting out EI fraudsters, the only people who lose are Canadians who follow the rules."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/02/25/pol-ei-targets-vs-quotas-finley.html

The only way this could even remotely count as a "whistle blower" incident is if Therrien was finding outright fraud, and the government was telling Therrien to keep quiet about it and NOT seek to cut them off.

Benefit fraud is a huge problem in this country, and what we really need are much stricter targets for ferreting them out. If Therrien is having moral issues with having a job as a fraud investigator with almost no oversight, she's in the wrong job. What we need for benefits of this nature (add welfare and similar assistance programs to that list) is downright draconian oversight. If you know anyone who works front line in those systems, you also know that fraud is rampant, and that very little is done about it.

Yes, you DO have to call them at home. Sometimes you even have to follow them around. That's how you prove the fraud.

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You just mentioned strawmen, there is no evidence (or claim from the report) that they were cutting people off unjustly.

That's the way I see it. Prove that they are rigging the system and unjustly cutting people off deliberately, then there could be a case. Emotion and sympathy for claimants got in the way of doing the job.

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You just mentioned strawmen, there is no evidence (or claim from the report) that they were cutting people off unjustly.

Having an predetermined number of denials does suggest that the particulars of the claims are irrelevant. Only the numbers matter. Quotas by definition mean that individuals' claims are irrelevant in the process.

So answer the question I posed. Would you leave your car or home insurance provider if you knew that they had a predetermined number of claims they were going to deny every month?

Edited by cybercoma
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I don't understand her claim about cutting off somebody from EI. When somebody applies, they're approved for a certain number of weeks. They can't go beyond those weeks. Does she mean cutting off somebody who doesn't qualify anymore?

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Guest Derek L

Having an predetermined number of denials does suggest that the particulars of the claims are irrelevant. Only the numbers matter. Quotas by definition mean that individuals' claims are irrelevant in the process.

You’re speculating and you clearly have no evidence to support your assertion, and said assertion wasn’t even cast in the CBC story.

So answer the question I posed. Would you leave your car or home insurance provider if you knew that they had a predetermined number of claims they were going to deny every month?

Not if the denied claims were fraudulent, namely because fraud will ultimately effect what the end user pays in terms of rates………overall, in the spirit of your unfounded assertion, I fully expect insurance companies to attempt to deny or obstruct all claims, for one simple reason, private insurance is a business expected to make money, if they didn’t and paid out every claimant, they’d be broke and my policy wouldn’t be worth the paper it was written on.

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Guest Derek L

Did she not reveal a quota system?

She claimed a quota system, but nowhere said they were cutting benefits to legitimate claimants, nor did she even imply such a practice…….that’s your baseless assertion.

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She claimed a quota system, but nowhere said they were cutting benefits to legitimate claimants, nor did she even imply such a practice…….that’s your baseless assertion.

So answer my previous question. Would you stick with an auto or home insurance company that required its adjusters to deny a set dollar amount of claims each month?

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Let me ask you something. You pay car insurance or home insurance, right? How would you feel if you found out that your insurance company was denying claims, not necessarily because they warranted it, but because they had a monthly quota of denials to make? You would probably switch companies, right? EI is job-loss protection insurance for both employees (so they have money while they look for a job) and for employers (as part of the terms, employees cannot sue employers when they lose their jobs). It's not a universal social welfare program. You are only eligible for it if you work and pay into it.

Have you never heard of fraudulent insurance claims? And yes, car/home insurance companies have methods of routing out fraudulent claims. Fraud is one of the main reasons - if not THE main reason why insurance rates are as high as they are. Do they have quotas on routing out fraud? Can't say with any certainty - but you can bet that Insurance fraud investigators have SOME method of measuring their performance.

Edited by Keepitsimple
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Guest Derek L

So answer my previous question. Would you stick with an auto or home insurance company that required its adjusters to deny a set dollar amount of claims each month?

I already did answer your question.....

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Look it's a pretty simple question and you're all bending and twisting without giving a straight answer. I'm satisfied with that to show that you're not ok with an insurance company having to fill denial quotas. The point obviously being that a predetermined value is nonsense. The insurance company should go after all fraudulent claims at all times. To tell adjusters that they need to recoup a particular dollar value means that they're going to be under pressure to deny legitimate claims. You all know that, so I don't know why you're sitting here trying to justify what the federal government is doing with employment insurance. It doesn't matter that there's not evidence that legitimate claims were denied. To argue about that misses the point. The point is that the system that's in place (having a predetermined value on denials) creates an incentive for denying valid claims in the interest of meeting numbers. There shouldn't be a predetermined number. Every single claim could be legitimate for all we know or every single claim could be illegitimate. Who knows? But for them to make up some number and pressure adjusters to deny a predetermined amount is ridiculous and I'm certain all of you know it. Otherwise, you would be able to answer simply and in a straightforward way whether you're ok with your home or auto insurance company having a predetermined number of claims they will deny in any given month. You know it's a problem because you know it encourage the adjusters to deny that many claims regardless of whether they're legitimate or not. It encourages them to meet their numbers instead of meeting the needs of the clients. The fact that you can't answer the question simply, tells me that you're aware of all of this, but for some reason insist on defending the government or trying to spin this in some way to make them look better. EI quotas are BS. It should be about each and every individual claim's legitimacy and not some number that the government wants to recoup any way possible.

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She claimed a quota system, but nowhere said they were cutting benefits to legitimate claimants, nor did she even imply such a practice…….that’s your baseless assertion.

You don't think having a quota system for this is a problem? They have a goal to recover a certain amount of money per month, and that might mean cutting legitimate people off. Sure there are people abusing the system, but to have a quota to fill each month with regards to payouts? Anyone can see the issue there.

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You know, having lived through a number of up and downs in the economy I have come to notice a sad fact that never seems to get mentioned.

When we are hurting, governments fall all over themselves to show they are "clamping down" on the "cheaters". Now we all know that some folks DO rip off the system but during periods of high unemployment WHEN THERE ARE NO JOBS is it really fair to be so aggressive, to the point where innocents are hurt willy nilly? We also all know that the governments are notorious for having no brains in making decisions in these areas.

Meanwhile, when we are flush nobody bothers to police a damn thing!

This makes it seem rather obvious that the true goal is just political optics. That being so, is it any wonder that nothing ever seems to change?

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This makes it seem rather obvious that the true goal is just political optics. That being so, is it any wonder that nothing ever seems to change?

You seem to be finally getting it, vis a vis political optics. (This came up recently in the thread discussing Toronto finances, wherein you talked about the political reality of Toronto being ripped-off for federal tax money and several of us lamented the fact that Toronto was victim to this soft-headed attitude from the country folk. )

Now that we're starting to get onto the same side the question is how to decide where the public needs to be educated, and how to do it.

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When we are hurting, governments fall all over themselves to show they are "clamping down" on the "cheaters". Now we all know that some folks DO rip off the system but during periods of high unemployment WHEN THERE ARE NO JOBS is it really fair to be so aggressive, to the point where innocents are hurt willy nilly?

Exactly!

Also, the program is designed such that it accumulates wealth and builds up during the good periods, when there is high employment and a lot of people paying in. This money is not supposed to be touched for anything else by the federal government, since it's an insurance program. It's supposed to just accumulate and sit there and be available in times of crisis. More people are going to draw from it when the economy is bad. That's the point. The federal government should be spending more and paying out more when the economy is bad. Instead of being focused on cutting people off to save money, all they need to focus on is the economy and creating incentives for job growth to fix the problem. When more people are employed, less people will be drawing on EI.

The Conservative Party's line right now is that there are "people without jobs and jobs without people." In other words, unemployment is too high, while businesses are complaining that they don't have the right people. You'll hear industry talking about a "skills gap" and how they need temporary foreign workers to fill positions that "Canadians don't want to do." Jason Kenney in his new role mentioned this before the ink dried on Harper's cabinet shuffle paperwork. What our government and industry does not want to admit is that this is a symptom of industry's resistance to free-market forces. If there are jobs without people and people without jobs, then industry is not offering enough money to fill the positions. If you have an overabundance of stock in a good, but there is very little demand, you need to lower your asking price to move stock. In the labour example, if you have an overabundance of labour that needs to be done, but very little demand for doing that labour, you need offer people more money for their labour. Instead, industry cries to the government that they need to bring in foreign workers. The government slashes employment insurance programs because they think this is the reason people aren't taking jobs. They do whatever they can to try to get people to accept a lower price for their labour, interfering in the markets, instead of allowing the free market to work and wages to rise naturally.

In short, if the government would allow the free market to determine wages, as it's supposed to, they could get more people off EI. Companies by their very nature must drive their costs down to zero. The perfect business model would have zero costs, which means everything is profit. Labour is a cost, so they are trying to do everything they can to drive that cost down to zero. The government needs to stop selling themselves out to the companies and aiding them in doing this, essentially interfering with the natural free-market increase in wages. Because as long as wages are artificially depressed like this, people will refuse to take the jobs. Australia has a minimum wage of something like $15 an hour and they have lower unemployment than both Canada and the US. This tells us that rightwing fear-mongering about higher wages destroying industry and creating higher unemployment is just not true. The only reason they're saying that is that companies will issue threats and do whatever it takes to drive their costs down to zero. When the government caves and is more afraid of industry than the people that vote for them, society ceases to function as it should. More to the point, you can stop calling it free market capitalism, despite the government's best efforts to hide that fact.

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