KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Nova Scotia’s MLAs are being challenged to get a taste of life on welfare. Actor and documentary maker Jackie Torrens would like MLA’s of all three parties to spend a week living on a welfare food budget of about $4.00 per day.
In Torrens’ 2015 documentary My week on welfare
she takes that welfare challenge herself, and finds out how stressful
and hard it is to make ends meet on such a minuscule allowance.
don’t extend the challenge in an aggressive way, or an angry way. I
sincerely want our MLAs to have a tiny glimpse of what people on social
assistance in this province are dealing with on a daily basis,” says
“I don’t think these MLAs are
ill-intentioned people and I believe that the problem of poverty
sincerely bothers them, but they lack real information,” Torrens says.
MLA’s would be spending between three
and four dollars per day on food, Torrens explains, and they would keep
a food diary to document how they are making out. We’re talking just
food here, this tiny allowance puts things like shampoo, household
cleaners, tampons and condiments simply out of reach.
Four dollars per day is technically a
bit more than individuals on social assistance get, Torrens points out,
but hey, let’s keep it simple.
“For anyone in government who wants
to give this little exercise a try, it could be the starting point of
understanding what living on welfare is like. I think if you lack this
honest taste of reality it is really hard to make informed decisions how
to help the people who are in real need.” says Torrens.
“I think all three parties need an education in this area,” Torrens says. “I would absolutely support them in a heartfelt way.”
“I don’t see it as a perfect solution, just an effort to get some reality going,” she says. “How much do people on welfare get for food, and how is it possible to try and keep yourself fed on that kind of budget.”
“I am hoping such a small taste of
reality will whet people’s curiosity. Everyone has opinions but people
lack basic information,” Torrens says.
Click here to stream My Week on Welfare. Contact Jackie through the My Week on Welfare Facebook page.