Another Personal Example of the Oppressive Nature of  Public Welfare Services

Recently, I experienced a less oppressive form of “service” by the Ontario Ministry of Health–but an oppressive form of service nonetheless. Having turned 65 on December 30, 2021, I retired. Earlier, I had been receiving disability benefits from Manitoba Teachers’ Society and the Canadian Pension Plan (I will be outlining, in future posts my experiences with that). I applied for assistance under the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program.

The following post has as its justification the Marxist strategy of the politics of exposure (making visible) the hidden oppression structures, strategies, tactics and acts characteristic of capitalist society  (see Thomas Mathiesen, The Politics of Abolition (1974)and Law, Society and Political Action: Towards a Strategy Under Late Capitalism (1980)).

In an earlier post, I provided a table of a series of oppressive measures that I have experienced as the Marxist father of my daughter, Francesca, ranging from false allegations of sexual abuse by Winnipeg Child and Family Services (WCFS) to the persistent physical abuse of Francesca by her mother–and the subsequent threat by the WCFS in January 2004–to have me arrested for allegedly making false accusations of physical abuse (which were, in fact, all true) (see A Personal Example of the Oppressive Nature of  Public Welfare Services). I sent that table to Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, to the Ministry of Justice and to the Ministry of Education, among others.

To be eligible for the program, it is required, apparently, that married couples must both file an income tax return. If they do not both fill out an income tax return, file it and have it processed, they will not be eligible. I initially refused to fill out my wife’s tax return. As anyone who has filed an income-tax return knows, even the simplest income tax return takes probably at least an hour to fill out (if not more)–for non-professionals, at least.

I had not known of such a rule that both spouses must file a tax return when I filed my 2020 income tax.  My wife, who is now 54 on January 27, 2022) has had zero income since she came to Canada in 2018 (she is a landed immigrant). I declared that on my income tax return every time for the years 1918-1920.

On the basis of my declaration of zero income, we received the maximum refundable tax credits (such as the GST tax credit). The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) then, for the tax year 2020, claimed that I owed money since my wife had to file her own income tax return. I argued that this made no sense since I had already indicated that my wife had zero income. The CRA backed off, and it recognized that I did not owe any money.

On the other hand, the bureaucratic worker who attended me on the phone from the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program used the argument that I was not obliged to fill out the tax return; she implied that I was free to not do so. Of course, just as a worker in a society characterized by the domination of a class of employers is free to not work for any particular employer (and suffer economic consequences for not doing so), so I am free to not fill out my wife’s income tax return (and suffer economic consequences for not doing so).

I was diagnosed with invasive bladder cancer in 2009 (60% chance of dying in the next five years–never occurred), rectal cancer in December 2015 (chemoradiation, without any further cancer being visible) and metastatic liver cancer in April 2017 (surgery on May 30, 2017, without any further cancer being visible). Given my experiences with cancer, I am well aware of the possible limited time I have to live (although I may live a long life–but not likely). I do not like to waste my time on unnecessary activities.

By the way, I encourage others to write about their oppressive experiences at the hands of “public services” on this blog. Surely my oppressive experiences with “public services” are not unique.

Below is a verbatim reproduction of the letter. I will make comments afterwards:

3000110 – Discrepen
This is to inform you that we have reviewed your application for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program; however, we cannot process your application at this time for the following reason(s):

  • Your last name on the account does not match the Canadian Revenue Agency records. [It was spelled Hairis–my last name is Harris.]
  • Information received from the Canadian Revenue Agency indicates that you and/or your spouse or common-law partner have not filed your most recent income tax return.

Applicants and if applicable, their spouse or common-law partner are required to have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN) and have filed taxes for the most recent tax year in order to be assessed.

If you or, if applicable, your spouse or common-law partner did not file an income tax return in the most recent tax year, or do not have a valid SIN, you must complete an Application through Guarantor Form.

Your Guarantor is required to review and verify your completed application and sign section 2 in order to be considered for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program.

To print an Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program – Application Through Guarantor Form Visit ontario.ca/forms
Enter 5126E in the Quick Search for Forms field

Your Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program Identification number is 000113933. Please quote this number when contacting or corresponding with the ministry.

Please contact us at 416-916-0204 or toll-free at 1-833-207-4435. In some cases, this information can be provided over the phone.

If we do not receive a response within 30 business days, your application for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program will not be processed.

To find out more about the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program, please contact the Program toll-free at 1-833-207-4435 (TTY toll-free at 1-800-855-0511) or visit ontario.ca/SeniorsDental

Thank you

Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program

Of course, if a substantial basic income were in place, then I would use the money to obtain dental services without having to accept the bureaucratic, illogical rule of couples having to both file tax returns despite one of the spouses having zero income. Having “free” dental services provided by the government or state hardly ensures that there is a lack of oppression. Certainly, dental services provided across the board (like health care now is for most parts of the body) may involve less oppression than this particular form of oppression–but even health care can easily become oppressive–with differentiated sections of the working class (such as whether you receive hospital care via a private bed, a semi-private bed or being placed in a hospital room with several other sick patients)

Economic coercion can assume many forms; one form is for governments to force citizens to conform to illogical, bureaucratic rules.

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