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

Just Posted

Heritage rail to remain closed for both July and August

Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society may open Cloverdale Station in September

‘Trauma equals addiction’ – why some seek solace in illicit substances

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Proposed White Rock development a ‘nightmare’ for Elm Street neighbours

Density, traffic, loss of views among chief concerns of residents

Delta launches online engagement portal

“Let’s Talk Delta” offers variety of feedback methods including surveys, polls, forums and Q&A boards

Story of ‘A Mother’s Journey to Adoption’ told in book by first-time Surrey author

In the 1990s, Raj Arneja and husband Gurpreet adopted two children in India

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

COVID-19 exposure on Vancouver flight

The Air Canada 8421 flight travelled from Kelowna to Vancouver on July 6

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Chilliwack

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

VIDEO: Former Abbotsford resident giving away $1,000

Langley native Alex Johnson creates elaborate treasure hunt to give away cash

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

UPDATE: Abbotsford shooting victim was alleged ‘crime boss,’ according to court documents

Jazzy Sran, 43, was believed to have been smuggling cocaine across the border

Most Read