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My life behind the welfare wall

One woman’s struggle to move forward in the system that holds her back

The following is an excerpt from the March 2016 Halifax Magazine feature called “My life behind the welfare wall,” by Kyla Derry as told to Chris Benjamin:

Here’s something you may not know about poverty: when you get off welfare and get a job, you can lose more than you gain financially. Sometimes, you end up poorer.

You lose money in taxes, earning expenses, and lost benefits, such as pharmacare, childcare subsidies, and earning clawbacks (money the government takes from welfare benefits for every dollar you earn). This discourages people from taking low-wage jobs, without the chance to earn better wages.

Kyla Derry’s story illustrates this catch-22. Kyla is one of 40,000 Nova Scotians on the Employment Support and Income Assistance program, which includes income assistance, employment support services and pharmacare. Only 11 per cent of participants have employment income, and 80 per cent of new applicants have been in the system before.

Kyla wants

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