Extra cash for chronically ill welfare recipients to eat healthy will be harder to get starting April 1 under new rules designed to combat fraud and comply with an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruling -- changes that are making some sick people nervous.
"We really do not want to disadvantage people who need the special diet allowance, people who are ill and who need that extra money to live with their illness or condition," Rebecca MacKenzie, a spokesman for Community and Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur said.
"At the same time, fraud is unacceptable," she said. "Fraud that happens hurts everyone else who is in the program for the correct reasons."
As of April, recipients of the special diet allowance will all have to reapply for the program, consent to have their relevant medical records checked and have their applications signed by a doctor or registered nurse practitioner, nutritionist or midwife.
As well, there are changes to the rates people with different conditions would be paid, with some afflictions getting less money or delisted altogether.
Those changes were the result of the human rights case in which patients with conditions such as diabetes or obesity that did not qualify for the program sued.
The tribunal ruled in their favour so the province set up a panel of medical experts to recommend which conditions would qualify.
MacKenzie said while people with some conditions may qualify for less money, many will qualify for more.
But Edward Lantz is nervous.