Ebenezer Klein, King of Alberta likes to kick the poor, the disabled and the homeless around.
Last election he made an issue of the disabled and those on AISH as being less than deserving then Martha and Henry, his severely normal Albertans.
During a protest about Alberta AISH payments being below the poverty line King Ralph with royal disdain claimed that most folks on AISH were probably faking it cause they smoke and drink just like him.
Well today the poor, the disabled and the widowed who have had the Alberta Government stealing their federal funds from them have had their day in court. The Alberta government spent years clawing back federal payments and failed for over a decade to increase AISH until this year. While pocketing the difference.
Now who looks stupid. Alberta settles $100M case over financial assistance payments
In Alberta when you first don't succeed in stealing folks money that is sent to them from the Federal government try, try again is the Klein Reich motto.
And here is the $100 million dollar question.
The class-action lawsuit was brought forward by two men representing those who were either underpaid by government support programs or who were subjected to what they claim were illegal and abusive debt collection processes initiated by the province.
AISH recipient Donald Fifield of Tees, in the County of Lacombe, was underpaid more than $10,000 in the 1980s. At the time, government policy limited restitution to six months' worth of losses, regardless of how long the underpayments went on. Under the terms of the settlement, Fifield will be eligible for as much as $30,000, which includes compound interest and the effect of a multiplier formula.
The policy was changed in 2005 and now the government will pay the full amount owed, if it is found to have underpaid pension and social assistance recipients.
The lawsuit said the government erred when collecting debts it claimed were owed by program recipients.
Due to a bureaucratic error, Curtis Roth of Tofield received an overpayment from the province to top up his monthly $980 Canada Pension Plan payment for several years when he was unable to work due to illness. When the $16,000 error was discovered, the government began to deduct the amount owing from Roth's monthly AISH payment, reducing his cheques to $40.
The class-action suit, filed by Edmonton lawyer Philip Tinkler, contended the government went against its own policy on debt repayment, which required the government to seek permission from the Court of Queen's Bench to reduce the pension payments, or reach an agreement with the recipient.
Uditsky said it's important government follows its own procedures.
"I think it's incumbent for the government to be an exemplary model for following procedure because they expect individuals with disabilities to do that all the time."
The government has changed its debt collection rules so that payments can be recovered without going through a court process or securing an agreement with the client. People who receive government payments can turn to the Citizen's Appeal Commission for redress if they have a problem with government decisions.
Bev Matthiessen, executive director of the Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities, wonders why the government didn't deal with this issue on its own years ago. "Why is it that we have to wait and wait until it goes to a lawsuit before we can do the right thing and be fair?"
It wasn't in King Ralph's Interest. Get it Interest. Interest on $100 million. Interest and money made off the backs of the poor, widowed and the disabled. Equal to the taxes and royalties paid by Ralphs pals in the oil industry. Interest made off by the real Martha and Henry, Albertans who are not 'severely normal'. So it's ok.
Now perhaps some single mothers on welfare will sue the government for clawing back the federal child tax credit. Another clever money making ploy of the Alberta Government.
Guess the rest of us will have to wait for our prosperity bribe, err bonus cheques a little longer while Ralph digs around in his treasury to make things right.
$400 rebate cheques will arrive in the new year
More Ralph Stories
Also See Alberta Surplus and Alberta Uber Alles