Toronto awarded satirical wastefulness prize for paying people to pretend to be homeless
Toronto has earned the dubious distinction of the Municipal Teddy Waste Award, a satirical prize that reprimands governments for wasteful spending. The winning/losing program—which allowed T.O. to beat Calgary, Winnipeg and Edmonton—is last year’s homeless audit, during which 50 individuals were asked to pose as street people in exchange for $100 prepaid Visa cards. The idea was to estimate the city’s efficiency at surveying the homeless; if some of the decoys were being missed, so were some of the truly homeless.
The tactic drew criticism for multiple reasons. It’s well known that not all homeless people are accounted for in the audit (and, indeed, not all homeless people adhere to the ratty-tuque-wearing, minimally toothed, easily visible homeless stereotype), and some city councillors have wondered if the $5,000 or so could have been better spent actually helping the homeless. “It was a very bizarre use of tax dollars,” Colin Craig, prairie director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, told the National Post.