All posts by k ward

No. Staggering Income Assistance Cheques Will Not Reduce Overdose Risk

(unless when you get payments is up to you)

Staggered cheque days will merely produce staggered emergencies. It is a supply-side, managerial-technocrat band-aid that doesn’t even purport to address the actual problem. Seriously this would put people in danger AND be a scandalous waste of money.

The problem is that by the time cheque day rolls around, people are DESPERATE. and have been for more than a couple days. More than a week, or often two — basic assistance (aka welfare) is $710 BEFORE rent – it is normal and unremarkable for people to exist in a survival mode that is incomprehensible to regular-type people. This is not a scheduling issue.

The Problem is Poverty.

Shifting cheque days around just makes the harms caused by poverty easier to manage — for health professionals and system designers and “service providers”. We continue, impoverished, to die (from the systemic injustice, ), but at more convenient times.

Cheque days are ruinous Because of the poverty. after weeks of desperation, of having to do *what one does* to survive, to not be sick, to feel a little bit ok, you finally get your cheque. What, are you going to come up with a budget so your 300$ lasts 32 days? (There is no such budget, btw.)

No, you go see your guy to pick up, right away, because you crave oblivion and to feel that feeling and not think about things today. Right now you don’t care what it is you just bought. I hear buddy said it was good—-

we must end cheque day but not like that.

Decent, guaranteed basic incomes, personal & collective agency to make meaningful choices about the direction of one’s life, secure and dignified housing, safe access to regulated substances without criminal or social sanction, and a politics rooted in Justice, Respect, Love—

This is about freedom, the freedom to be human and be fully human to each other, to practice harm reduction as a conscious constant questioning, to expand the concept of harm — we can start by acknowledging our own pain, trauma, fear — and when we see this pain in other people, we can acknowledge that reality too, and refuse to look away or seek to make that pain and all these people (like me) into a flatter line on a graph, into a data point not a human person in this world, easier for managers to manage, more convenient for coroners to count.


A response to an opinion piece published in the Vancouver Sun, June 19 2018, “Lindsay Richardson: Can Staggering Income Assistance Cheques Reduce Overdose Risk?

Thinking Through Silence

Living & dying during the end of the war on drugs in the context of the overdose crisis. I was a guest of Donald MacPherson, Executive Director of the Canadian Drug Policy Alliance, on Oct 10, 2017, when he was awarded the SFU Stirling Prize for Controversy.

Whirled Without End

This piece was part of Gachet’s Mad Pride show in 2010 – ECO-MADNESS!!! or Humans Are Killing the Planet and I Feel Fine – it was a huge huge show, spilling out everywhere like the oil erupting from the well in the Gulf, which we projected live throughout the run, just to be clear about what was going on. I made these sad little scenes of people trapped in my old pill bottles, and hung them in the old Gachet window. Some had individual titles (or handles, really), as a set I called it Whirled Without End.

TMH gif


Temporary Modular Housing build (Pearson-Dogwood); gif adapted from BC Housing-produced timelapse video published April 18 2018