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Fraud charges by Community Services leave former welfare recipient terrified

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – How long can the Department of Community Services haunt you after you are off the system? Annapolis Valley resident Frank Michael Foley is about to find out.

Years after he got off social assistance the department intends to charge him with fraud for running a small business, even though the department had earlier approved the practice. He is terrified and fears he may lose his daughter as a result.

Just a photo of any old tattoo shop somewhere in North America.

Foley spent nearly eleven years caring for his terminally ill wife, Tammy. When Tammy died last July, Foley was left with the sole care of his severely autistic fourteen year old daughter, Ashley.

Foley was on social assistance during much of his wife’s illness and says it was ‘…nothing but battles’ with them the whole time. His wife needed constant care and medical supplies for her muscular dystrophy and, at times, his case worker would cut his family off assistance and pharmacare with no explanations.

Foley would go off to Community Services and correct the situation which wasn’t an easy task with a wheelchair bound wife and a daughter who required  much attention and care.

As a former tattoo artist, Foley had tattoo equipment he kept at his house and had recently opened up a shop which he operated part time during the hours of Tammy’s respite care each week.

Three years ago Foley was told by a casework supervisor in Community Services that he had to sell his tattoo equipment and support his family on the money he received from the sale, as the department considered that equipment to be an asset.

Foley found an advocate who went with him to meet with the case work supervisor and point out that the department’s  Policy manual  clearly states in Asset Exclusions that: “The following items are not considered assets… Tools or equipment directly related to a trade or profession.”

Community Services wanted Foley to sell his equipment and shut down his shop as the department felt he was not making enough money in his business.

Foley knew that the shop wasn’t making much money as he only had a certain amount of hours each week to operate the business. But his tattoo business was good for his mental health, Foley and his advocate argued, and he liked to make the bit of money that he made. He faithfully reported the money he made each month to Community Services.

Foley explained all this to the case work supervisor and the situation seemed to be resolved although he and his advocate wondered why neither the caseworker not the case work supervisor seem to know their department’s policies.

Foley did eventually shut down his shop when he took on a job as a flagger with a local road crew company, found  a caregiver for Ashley and got off social assistance. When Tammy went into palliative care Foley stayed by her side until she died and then took over caring for their daughter.

Now alone with his daughter, they live on Ashley’s Child Tax Credit and Disability Tax Credit of just under $700 per month in a rough but comfortable mortgage free home near Annapolis Royal . The Dependent Survivor’s Benefits under CPP for Ashley hasn’t come through yet as Foley filled out the wrong form. Tammy did not work outside the home long enough for Survivor Benefits for Foley.

Early this week Foley received a call from the local RCMP. The constable requested that Foley and he have a ‘long chat’ about the charge of fraud that Community Services was lodging against Foley.

Foley says he has no idea what fraud he has committed while on social assistance. The constable told him that Community Services claims that Foley committed fraud for more than $19,000 because the department had demanded that Foley sell his tattoo equipment and he had refused. The $19,000 was the amount paid out for living and medical expenses while Foley had the tattoo shop.

Foley explained to the constable that he was permitted to keep the tools  they helped him to get a job or open a business. The constable responded  that he did not know anything about this policy and strongly insisted that Foley make an appearance at the local RCMP detachment within the week.

Foley, who is terrified of losing Ashley, has been in touch with a legal aid lawyer.

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11 Comments

  1. What a system …The poor man did what he could and they want to charge him with fraud ?????Hell there are people who have screwed the system for generations .. they never get bothered …Tell community services to go bother someone who has honestly defrauded the system and leave this poor man be …

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  2. I agree with the above comment of Moe. I want to add A-bit of factor to the above comment. The Department of Community Services likes to do too much to abuse it’s clients and it needs to stop. Lets per hearsay income assistance was called either an income of support, or called a basic generated basic income. If it was called either of these names I had just mentioned and perhaps stuff like this would not be happening to ESIA clients. It is my hope that the charges against him will get dropped.

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  3. Also in some way this article goes to show that Department of Community Services does not care about persons with disabilities and his his case the needs of a single parent.

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  4. This is quintessential example of the Machiavellian mentality held by an archaic Nova Scotia government department supposedly there to help and support those who most are in need. So disgraceful. Beyond words.

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    1. they do what they want cause there are no consequences .. the law and policy doesn’t matter .. people are supposed to be protected from arbitrary government employees .. whatever the worker of the day feels is the right thing to do, they do it with full backing of the minister of community services and their legal team, which is supposed to ensure gov. follows the law. Even their lawyers will lie right to your face … community services owns the family court .. that is 100% true .. they own justice department and police think they have to do what community services tell them to do .. which is not true .. all the people in gov. than could hold them accountable and don’t or won’t .. well, they value their cush gov. jobs more than they value the people that pay them .. and that includes anyone on income assistance .. the government makes money off the birth certificate by way of estimating how much work the person might produce as income to the economy .. oh yeah, it’s true .. that’s why there is such a hate for people on income assistance .,.

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  5. This is so irritating for so many abuse the system and get away with it. Why not chase the people who are renting their partners home while tax payers pay the mortgage as they live as a couple. Honesty doesn’t pay in this day and agr

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  6. I think it’s disgraceful what they are doing to this man who has looked after his sick wife and now a child with a disability and they are trying to get money out of him for unnecessary reasons on the part of Community Services.
    They need to start checking on people who are abusing the system on a daily basis and leave those who are trying to make an honest living. I say go to our leader Mr. MacNeil when his campaigning and plead your case. It doesn’t hurt. I wish him all the best of luck and hope this gets resolved so he and his daughter can live in peace. God bless them both.

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  7. They pulled the same crap with us to the tune of 18,000. we fought them and won because i kept my receipts for the house i was living in, in a different town when they said i was living with my wife and kids, which they don’t want………. Which is also said

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  8. You would think that they would want him to keep the tattoo equipment to make any money he could , because when he reported earnings they would just deduct that amount from what they had to pay him .. or close to it ,, the welfare system is in need of policy changes , if anyone knows really what they are from one department to another , if you are a young person on welfare with a child and want to go to post secondary school you are denied , while you are taking classes or any trade ..you will be cut off NO MONEY ,, but if you just stay home and do nothing you are able to receive money , did they not want him to use a skill and eventually get off the system ???? or anyone ?????if you do not have a skill you will never get ahead , MAKES NO sense . give them the tools , or in his case keep his tools

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  9. This is truly a black Mark on social services. The tattoo parlor in question was part time when respite care was provided. The hours he had available would not generate an income to support his wife’s needs nor those of his daughter. I find it disgraceful that we treat our citizens in need with such disregard. I wish him all the best I sorting this out. Good luck Mike!

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