featured Poverty

Changing the definition of welfare cheats — My Week on Welfare screening in Dartmouth North.

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – On October 4 there will be a screening of the excellent documentary My Week on Welfare at the Dartmouth North Community Centre.

The documentary offers a no holds barred view into the lives of people caught up in Nova Scotia’s welfare system. People who struggle to survive on grossly inadequate benefits and who face prejudice all the time.

Scene from My Week on Welfare

People featured in the documentary will be at the screening to talk about their experiences.

The event is organized by the Benefits Reform Action Group (BRAG), people on welfare and their supporters who want rates raised and dignified lives for people on social assistance. The Nova Scotia Advocate is proudly sponsoring the event.

For Tim Blades, a BRAG member who worked hard to pull the event together, this is much more than just a screening.

“This is an opportunity to give a voice to people who don’t typically get heard, and also an opportunity to share their experiences,” Blades says. “It’s also a safe place to do so, there will be no media.”

An earlier screening of the documentary, at the public library on Gottingen Street, was very successful, Blades says.

“We had people line up for the microphone. It was very moving. When you share your stories it gets so that other people also want to share. It’s like a domino effect,” says Blades.

We need to change how we think about welfare cheats, Blades believes. The real welfare cheat is Community Services.

“I hate that term,” he says. “In my mind, a welfare cheat is someone who takes the child support from a single mother, or someone who only allows you to keep $150 of your earnings and takes everything else. “A welfare cheat is someone who all of a sudden cuts your benefit back.”

Like BRAG on Facebook, and find out about their meetings and other news. Or come to the screening of My Week on Welfare, and meet BRAG members, on October 4 at the Dartmouth North Community Centre. 

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