There’s nothing lazy about being on income assistance


Being on income assistance is exhausting. To even apply for it, there’s endless amounts of paperwork and appointments. Numerous documents needs to be signed and verified and endless amounts of photocopies are needed. And then the wait begins.

If you’re employable, you are then referred to a back-to-work program. These programs vary in quality and eligibility. There are programs for people recovering from abuse or addiction, native services, disabilities, single parents, etc. Program requirements vary, but usually include re-vamping your resume, bringing your cover letter up-to-date and learning  how to access the hidden job market. If you’re lucky, they also provide transit tickets, food, daycare and emotional support/workshops.

Sounds fairly straight-forward? Well, it isn’t. By the time you’re in a position where applying for income assistance is your best option, you’re probably dealing with a fair amount of stress including (but certainly not limited to):

  • Lack of sleep
  • Low self-esteem
  • Stress on how to pay your rent, feed yourself and your kid(s), make your bill payments
  • Recovering from an addiction
  • Fleeing an abusive relationship
  • Finding safe accommodations
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Career change
  • Going back to school

As if this doesn’t sound complicated enough, there is also the possiblity of  income assistance either losing your paperwork or forgetting to forward necessary documentation to the appropriate person/department, feeling bad about asking for help, not knowing that you have the right to ask for help and questioning how the hell you got here in the first place. And the list goes on.

I suppose there are people who sit on their couch, beer and/or cigarette in hand, thinking how grateful they are that they don’t have to do anything with their lives to improve it. Of the 10-months I’ve been on income assistance, I’ve not met one person who didn’t want to get off of it. And were working towards that goal, despite the odds.

So if I’m sitting on my couch staring at my disconnected TV and doing nothing, it’s because I’m so overwhelmed with the magnitude of my situation that I don’t know where to start. Not because I’m lazy.


2 thoughts on “There’s nothing lazy about being on income assistance

  1. This post is so well written. It speaks for a minority who really do ‘work hard’ to get off of financial support. I am reminded of my childhood and the countless hours my mother spent looking/praying/looking/hoping for work and not finding any. For the very reason that she couldn’t raise her three children alone, with no spousal support, and go back to school to keep up with the demands in the workforce. I saw her slowly lose in the rat-race of life. More of these stories need to be heard so individuals can become better informed -and not so quick to judge.


    • Thanks for your comment and you’re so right. If more people like me shared their stories, perhaps people would learn to be less judgemental. It reminds me of the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”.


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