A Tale of the Reality of Welfare

Welfare is there to help a person get back to work, and not to be a way of life.  Right. I am on welfare so I know a little of what this way of life is.

I just completed a ten week job seekers workshop, my second in the last six months. I now know how to sent emails, write a cover letter and resumes, all very useful, so useful that I learned them a long time ago.

I have worked as a shelter support worker outside of BC for several years, a calling not for everyone. The stress is high, pay low and the hours terrible. To do the same type of work here in BC I would need to upgrade my certificate. The course costs $1,600 dollars for tuition, books and other equipment.

Hearing from a friend that there might be a way of getting some help from Welfare, with light heart and smile, at last, I thought let’s find out about this. It seems indeed there is such a program, but not for someone like me, as I am able to work. Therefore I would have to pay this sum out of the $610 a month I receive. If I were disabled I would be entitled to this support program along with an extra allowance. Then it was pointed out that as an able-bodied person, if it were at all possible for me to raise the cost of  tuition, I  would be cut off from welfare as I would have more then the allowable amount in my bank. Also if a way was found to earn that amount of money, it would be clawed back as I am not permitted to earn any money without the total earnings deducted from the next issued cheque.

There was a few seconds of silence. Then I was informed that my next cheque would be held back until I was seen by one of their staff and that would take from 5 to 10 days after issue day. Stunned, I asked how can this happen, after a month of 6 weeks (because welfare cheques are paid early before Christmas), there is not much left in the pantry. Sorry we cannot help you, come back to make an appointment. No more light heart, smile, or hope. What a lifestyle. Is this the help that is so often cited so one can get off Welfare?

Fraser Stuart

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