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.

Just Posted

B.C. offers early retirement, training fund for forest workers

Communities eligible for $100,000 for permanent closures

Woman collapses at Eagle Creek Fair Grounds

A woman was taken to the Lakes District Hospital after she collapsed… Continue reading

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Power restored to 120,000 customers after northern B.C. transmission failure

Lightning is suspected to be the cause of the outage, says BC Hydro

Rattée visits Burns Lake

Claire Rattée, Conservative Party of Canada candidate for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, accompanied by… Continue reading

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Police investigate after intoxicated teens clash with security at B.C. fair

18-year-old woman arrested and RCMP looking at possible assault in Victoria-area fall fair incident

BC SPCA investigating after three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting

Lawyer tells court accused was diagnosed with psychosis hours after his arrest

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Most Read