Monday, 24 September 2018

On Wednesday evening several MLAs from all three parties attended a screening of My Week on Welfare at the auditorium of the Nova Scotia Art Gallery in downtown Halifax. My Week on Welfare is a wonderful documentary, produced by Jackie Torrens, that offers glimpses into the lives of income assistance recipients, families and individuals both, trying to make ends meet on a scandalously low food and shelter budget. The screening was organized by BRAG and CASAR members. What follows is what poverty advocate and Nova Scotia Advocate contributor Tim Blades told the MLAs. 

Nothing is ever simple when you’re on income assistance. Just ask Kate, a single mother. Michael, the elder of her two children, is a four-year old boy who has non-visible disabilities and is not yet fully potty trained. Now Community Services has sent Kate a letter that it will no longer help pay for the boy’s diapers. A decision like that is devastating when getting by is a struggle. “These caseworkers make me feel me feel as if they’re paying for it, as if it’s coming out of their pay cheques. It’s driving me bonkers.”

Kendall Worth meets up with a couple on income assistance, all set to do a serious job search now that they have a free bus pass and a phone. Just goes to show what a difference access to public transportation makes. “Now that we have both the bus pass and the phone, we are planning to get down to business with looking for meaningful employment,” Peter and Peggy tell Kendall. “Kendall, we are tired of living with the bureaucratic nonsense. We are tired of it, and we hope that now that we got our free bus pass we can get off this system.”

We talked with El Jones to better understand what is driving the protest inside the Burnside jail, and how people on the outside can support the prisoners. “The prisoners are not saying anything that is in the least contentious. The demands are all very basic, we have known of these issues for a very long time.”