Mayor Rob Ford is fired up over possible welfare “double-dipping.”
Ford was talking Sunday on his Newstalk 1010 show about a report going to audit committee Thursday finding 1,539 people holding business licenses from the city – including 759 cabbies, 104 strippers, 170 holistic practitioners and 32 buskers – collected around $20 million in welfare payments while claiming they had zero income between January 2010 and December 2011.
Ford acknowledged the report makes it clear holding a business license doesn’t guarantee someone is receiving additional income but he was suspicious there could be some fraud.
“I call it double-dipping,” Ford said. “They are getting social assistance or some people call it welfare but yet they are working on the side.”
The mayor questioned why someone would have a business license and collect welfare at the same time.
“I have no problem helping people out with social assistance but I don’t like when people are double-dipping,” he said.
Councillor Doug Ford said just because someone is holding a business license doesn’t mean they are working.
“Why have a (taxi) license if you aren’t going to drive?” Ford asked.
“104 strippers … you know any strippers that aren’t stripping?”
Ford said the report was an example of the “gravy train” his brother campaigned on stopping.
“Again here is the gravy train, $20 million potentially. There has to be a clear path that this is connected,” he said.
The Ward 2, Etobicoke North councillor predicted anyone who was hiding income and collecting welfare would be “in deep trouble.”
“Who gets stuck? The taxpayers get stuck for $20 million potentially,” he lamented.
Ford also praised Auditor General Jeff Griffiths before repeating his criticism of Ombudsman Fiona Crean spending part of her budget to travel to a conference in Azerbaijan.
“That gentleman (Griffiths) is worth every single penny that we pay him,” Ford said.
“The auditor general shows a return,” he added.