Poverty Weekend Video

Weekend video: Sylvia′s story

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – “There were more nights I had to go to sleep hungry, because I had to feed my kids.”  In this week’s Weekend Video, produced by Feed Nova Scotia,  Sylvia tells us what a life on income assistance is like in Nova Scotia, and how it affected her children.

Readers of the Nova Scotia Advocate may well be already familiar with Sylvia. In May we commissioned her to write Lives on welfare: It eats away at your very core.  It’s that post that so impressed the Feed Nova Scotia folks they wanted to make the video.

Feed Nova Scotia is the organization that coordinates the activities of 147 food banks and meal programs across the province. Here is how you can support them, and no, it’s not just money or food donations it is asking for.

The largest primary source of income category among households assisted by food banks in Nova Scotia continues to be Income Assistance, this year at 56.5%.

If you can, please support the Nova Scotia Advocate so that it can continue to give voice to people we don’t hear about very often, and to cover issues such as poverty, racism, exclusion, workers’ rights and the environment in Nova Scotia. A pay wall is not an option since it would exclude many readers who don’t have any disposable income at all. We rely entirely on one-time donations and a tiny but mighty group of kindhearted monthly sustainers.





  1. Doesn’t she deserve the same help given to refugee families? How about a free gym pass to kick start her self esteem? There’s a job out there somewhere for her and she needs help getting the right one.

  2. This situation really bothers me. She obviously has lots of skills and talents, as demonstrated by this video. I worked on day care and residential care settings where she would be a real asset. What about her former partner, is he an ok guy , just staying away because he doesn’t have money. He could babysit so she could do shift work and make a real difference in his kids life. Don’t let her wake up some day and find she has no CPP benefits or a nest egg to help her kids in an emergency.

    1. To keep it positive, my daughter’s father isn’t in the picture and will remain out for safety reasons.
      I have sole custody because of that, and all our names have legally been changed to protect us.

      Shift work is currently being done and the little support I have is coming from godparents and my oldest child.
      (Whom I might add if he works; I lose his income from my check as well so he can’t get ahead so he can move out on his own… :S )
      This holds him back from how own potential as well.

      My self-esteem is good, it’s the stigma of being on assistance even while working that puts a kink into things.
      Employers don’t want to hire anyone who’s on assistance and if they do they consider welfare recipients
      lazy. (I have seen and heard this too many times)

      I’ve had several emergencies since this story and gone without because I can’t get funding for certain things as
      I “make too much” working but I make too little to really survive. I’ve been blamed for my situation time and time again,
      yet I make every effort I can to improve it only to have things taken away as soon as I succeed. I have skills out my eyeballs but nothing to prove it because IA will NOT allow me to go back to school… WHY? … “You’re too old.” (Yes I was told this) Support for education after 35 is NO longer there. IA wants you working not getting smarter.

      IA told me they would cover child care only to take it from me once I made more than $1000 that month.
      (My IA was $777, with the special needs allowances for my child’s dietary and my own needs) My child care is $400 a month.
      leaving me with a little over $600 to survive on. Less than the $777 I was getting without working and not paying childcare.
      I’m told it’s there to support people when it isn’t. It holds you back.

      In the 80’s when Mrs. Joanne Benard (Our former Income Assistance Minister) was on Family allowance, schooling was supported. Loans were not considered income… nor were they taken from you because you wanted a better life, NOW it is considered an income (who the hell was the brain behind this one where a debt is considered income?!… Oh wait… Joanne… yeah thanks for that!) and IA refuses to assist anyone who decides to better themselves and cuts you right off. And no one teaches you in high school how to apply for a loan so you can get your secondary education.

      I COULD be on disability, sitting on my butt living up to the stigma I’ve been labeled with; BUT I choose to work!
      Her biological father finally paid some of the $3500+ he owes in back child support.
      which amounts to about 0.11 Cents a week for the last 6 years and it was ALL taken off our IA check…
      It’s SUPPOSED to be HER money; to support her. (We haven’t gotten any since then.)

      I WISH I could find a job that allows me to still spend time with my child so I can help her continue on her education path as she’s a gifted kid. Problem is she’s just going to end up like 100’s of other kids and stuck in a system that will give up on her and she will give up too. I’m trying like hell to give her a fighting chance because I see potential in her. I can’t get there alone, and asking for help SHOULDN’T hurt… but most often on IA… it does.

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