Mulcair accuses PM of sending bureaucratic thugs door-to-door to probe EI claims

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair speaks to the media outside the New Democratic Party.

Credits: REUTERS


OTTAWA - NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair has accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of sending government thugs to people's homes in an attempt to blame employment insurance recipients, but Service Canada officials insist the practice is not new.

Mulcair, who admits EI fraud is problem in some cases, said the Conservative government is in the midst of trying to "condition public opinion" to blame worthy recipients.

Service Canada said Wednesday about 1,200 random visits are planned between now and the end of March. Officials said house calls are designed to get a progress update from those seeking work.

"The question is what is going on now is against everything that we stand for in a democratic society," Mulcair told reporters Wednesday. "Sending the Harper Macoutes into people's homes on a systematic basis without the slightest indication that something is wrong was aimed at producing exactly this result."

Mulcair has also vowed to launch a campaign to rally against the government's treatment of EI - temporary financial assistance into which Canadians pay.

Human Resource Minister Diane Finley recently confirmed her department has set savings "objectives" which vary based on region after a media report suggested Service Canada employees face pressure to treat all applicants like potential fraudsters.

Service Canada employees said visits have been a practice for years and specific directives haven't been given to bureaucrats.

The officials also confirmed EI fraud has not been on the rise and the department tracks funds lost due to abuse, but not the number of individuals involved.

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