Wednesday, 21 November 2018

In September 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. This is what Aron Spidle, who is featured in the documentary, told the MLAs. “When a friend asks me to do something with them, the first thing that occurs to me is to ‘how can I get out of this gracefully?’ because most of the time I cannot afford it.”

Kate, a fearless mother who we have written about before, fights Community Services and gets the glasses (with warranty) her autistic son requires. It was hard and scary, and it looks like questions the NS Advocate was asking made a bit of a difference. This story has a happy ending, but you can’t help but wonder how many people would just have given up much earlier.

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. 

Anti-poverty activist Kendall Worth on five income assistance recipients who all lost their special diets in the last little while, even though their medical doctors told Community Services that the diet was medically necessary. What to do?

Alec Startford: “The recent changes to the Income Assistance Program are embedded in a traditional worldview that poverty is largely the result of an individual deficit, that people need to work harder to join the workforce, and for those who can’t work, we feel sympathy for their suffering and we want to relieve the pain. The grounding principle in this worldview is that the free market is the best and most efficient way to alleviate poverty. Where it can’t the social welfare system will provide remedial services to relieve suffering.”