Last Monday, POGG Canada and Canadians for Accountability awarded the seventh annual Golden Whistle Award. This Award is presented annually to honour a whistleblower for integrity, courage, and resolve in the service of “Peace, Order and Good Government”. As usual, there were a number of worthy candidates, but unfortunately only one can be chosen. This year, the award went to Sylvie Therrien, a former employee who blew the whistle on a grossly unethical policy targeting employment insurance claimants.
When she started her job as a federal Employment Insurance fraud investigator, Ms. Therrien was surprised to find out that the main – perhaps only – measure of her performance was whether she had met her target for cutting off EI claimants on the basis of fraud: $35,000-$40,000 per month. If she had been able to meet those targets using only those who had actually committed fraud, it’s likely we would never have heard of her. By her estimate, only a very small minority were actual fraud cases – as low as one in twenty.
Rather than assessing each case on the basis of its merits and assuming innocence until proven guilty, she and other fraud inspectors were told to comb through people lives to find any excuse to cut benefits.… Read the rest