Friday, May 02, 2008

The false economy of callousness

BC's 'liberal' government of Gordon Campbell pushed over 100,000 people off of welfare. Over 6000 died. Many more became homeless. Now it turns out that a homeless person costs taxpayers almost 8 times as much as someone on welfare due to increased emergency supports, health care, policing and emergency housing.
Local and provincial taxpayers are now paying an estimated $644 million a year on emergency services for the province's 11,700 homeless people who are both severely addicted and mentally ill, according to an exhaustive study by SFU's Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction.
Put bluntly: Welfare pays $7,320 per person per year. Homelessness costs an estimated $55,000 per person per year.
"It's definitely a false economy," Klein said. But because that cost is spread between various ministries and shared among dozens of local municipalities, it's effectively hidden in plain sight.
Slashing welfare may give the uncaring among us a mean-spirited little frisson of satisfaction that they aren't being 'forced' to contribute as much to the social contract, but in fact all it does is eat up even more taxpayer dollars than would have been spent keeping the same numbers on the welfare rolls.

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