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

Transfer station experiences uptick in usage after Smithers, Telkwa suspend curbside recycling

In the wake of a May 9 fire Recycle BC has been experiencing an uptick in usage.

Hazelton Secondary School withdraws notices for temporary dress code

Parents previously told the Interior News they felt there was inadequate consultation over the rules

Ramona Wilson Memorial Walk: Twenty-five years, but still no closure

“What we’re standing for today is that nobody is going to sweep this under the rug, nobody.”

Muheim class repeats 2017 award for interaction with seniors

Liliana Pesce’s Grade 4-5 class honoured by BC Retired Teachers Association

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

Family frustrated Terrace dad with advanced cancer must wait weeks for treatment

‘We can see his health declining every day,’ daughter says

Most Read