Paramedics revive a man overdosing in downtown Chilliwack in 2017. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)

Changes to ‘Welfare Wednesday’ model must be careful, thought out: report

Splitting up payments leads to drop in drug use but spike in police interaction

“Welfare Wednesday” might one day be a thing of the past, according to researchers from the B.C. Centre on Substance Use, who are advocating for a more flexible approach.

In a report released Monday, the centre examined three models: paying out government assistance once a month but on staggered days for different people, paying out assistance twice a month on staggered days, and a control group that continued to get its payments on the traditional last Wednesday of each month.

Traditionally, the risk of overdosing at supervised injection site Insite doubles the day of and the day after cheque day. In the community as a whole, past research has shown fatal overdoses spike 35-40 per cent in the five days after Welfare Wednesday.

Researchers had 194 participants, largely from the Downtown Eastside, who participated in the six month study.

They found both staggered cheque groups were about one-third as likely to increase their drug use around government cheque day, and about half as likely to do so when they received their payments.

But although drug used decreased, the report found violence, negative police interactions and non-fatal overdoses went up.

Study participants were enthused by a potential dip in overdoses but worried that staggering cheque days would make it tough for service providers like social workers to keep up with which clients needed help on which days.

Others were concerned that a change in assistance days might take away the urgency to increase payments, which many participants said were too low.

READ MORE: Should B.C. nix ‘Welfare Wednesday’ and stagger income assistance cheques?

READ MORE: B.C. welfare office criticized for leaving clients waiting outside in rain, snow


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

North Island College president to retire next year

North Island College’s president and CEO has officially announced his plans to… Continue reading

Canadian Ferry Association cautions against politicizing BC Ferry operations

Reasonable safety, not politicized safety way to go, Canadian Ferry Association says

Scarlet Ibis sale falls through

Beloved pub and restaurant in Holberg, B.C. is back with previous owner

Fishing so far has been great this season in the north Island

‘I can’t think of a better way to spend Canada Day. This year I got to fish with two amazing guests’

UPDATE: Search suspended for missing Vancouver Island hiker

Searchers scoured Strathcona Park near Gold River for experienced 65-year-old on 40-kilometre trek

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Almost 99% less land in B.C. burned this year compared to 2018

2018 was the worst year on record for wildfires

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

Most Read