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An exploration of the reality versus the stereotypes of people on income assistance.


Award-winning documentarian – and former teenage welfare mother – Jackie Torrens explores stereotypes about welfare recipients by going back on welfare for a week. She finds out what the day-to-day reality of life is really like for people on income assistance in Nova Scotia in 2015. During her week-long stay, she discovers unexpected insights and encounters the complex issues facing those on the system. Produced by Jessica Brown and directed & written by Jackie Torrens of Peep Media.


“Watch as Jackie Torrens crushes stereotypes and unleashes some potent storytelling. Everyone should watch My Week on Welfare, an important piece of made-in-Nova Scotia journalism” Henk van Leeuwen

“This is an extremely well done documentary on welfare life in NS. Jackie Torrens & her colleagues have made a thoughtful, respectful & well researched piece.” Pamela Harrison

“I’m watching My Week on Welfare by @JackieTorrens on @CBCNS right now. Important, personal look inside “the system”. #nspoli” Graham Steele, Author, CBC political analyst, consultant on democratic development, former MLA and Minister of Finance in Nova Scotia

“My Week on Welfare brought the truth into our living rooms. Hopefully the conversation will continue and get louder and stronger.” Sherry Smith

“Jackie Torrens brings us another documentary of note.” Andrew Aulenback

“A big standing ovation for the folks that invited you into their homes and shared their stories….. but it was difficult and painful to watch…. but many, many, many thanks!” Debi Noye

“Absolutely stellar! A+++” Catherine Meyers

“Great and thought provoking job!!!!” Cliff LeJeune

“Righteous!” Cynthia Maillet

“Just watched My Week On Welfare it if you haven’t seen it, you really really should!” Lita Llewellyn

“Jackie Torrens, you aren’t just telling the stories of those particular people; those stories represent so many other people, including me. I also have friends that have stories very similar to the people that you have introduced us to tonight.” Tim Blades

“My Week on Welfare. With Jackie Torrens on CBC. 
If your not already watching,then… watch it.” Laurie Thomas

“A really important film that needs to be seen more widely.” Halifax Humanities

“Thank you for ‘My Week on Welfare. A real eye-opener. #dispellingstereotypes #handup #education #community” Sherry Carmont

“Your doc was eyeopening! I feel wasteful thinking about the $ I spend on food & how much I waste. I’m luckier than I thought.” HaliJenn

“#MyWeekonWelfare was a huge eye opener for me. Thank you for drawing attention to the issue of poverty in Nova Scotia.” Catherine Mac

“Thks @JackieTorrens for showing human suffering caused by paternalistic efforts to “support” the vulnerable: physical/emotional starvation.” Debbie MacKenzie

“Fantastic, moving and eye opening documentary. Well done.” Paula J Finlayson

“This is amazing and important and humbling and brave work. bravo to you, jackie and to the wonderful and brave souls who shared their lives with you and us.” Bernadine Stapleton

“Thanks for championing for these folks and highlighting the daunting challenges that they are faced with on a daily basis.” Kristie Sills

“Worth watching to understand toll of punitive inadequate system; no diff anywhere else in Canada #endpoverty” CCPA-NS

“Thx @jackietorrens lump in my throat & fire in my belly to continue to fight to end poverty. It is a matter of priorities #myWeekonWelfare” Christine Saulnier, CCPA-NS director

“@JackieTorrens I watched it this AM & thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks for shedding light on topic. You do great work!” Jen MacKinnon

“Thanks to @JackieTorrens Sherreace Higgins,Aron Scott Spidle, Mahkayden Higgins, Kayla Usher, Jessica Brooks, Robin Hodgson #myweekonwelfare” Holly G

“Thank you @JackieTorrens. My Week on Welfare teaches us so much. @UWHalifax is keen to share your powerful film.” Carole MacDougall

“Tks @JackieTorrens @peep_media #MyWeekOnWelfare clearly showed #ppl trying hard to get by despite multiple barriers #equitable #life for all” Dartmouth Learning Network

“@JackieTorrens’s doc “My Week on Welfare” has left me feeling both grateful for what I have and like I’m not doing enough. #FacesofNSWelfare” Caitlin Hartlin

“Congrats and thank you @JackieTorrens. #myweekonwelfare is all over my feeds. Will watch online. @CBCNS” Lisa Roberts

“We should all take an hour tonight and watch. Most of us, no matter our occasional struggles, never experience this.” John Woodford

“That was eyeopening! I’m feeling a lot more grateful tonight for my employment, clean and safe housing and the ability to buy whatever food strikes my fancy. Even when I thought I had it tough, I still had one foot on Easy St.” Jennifer L. Campbell

“An eyeopener – Thank you for this documentary.” Chris Harwood

“Bravo Ms. Brown, I applaud you and your team!” Pam Smith Jones

“THANK YOU” Cynthia Biggs

“A BIG SHOUT OUT & CONGRATULATIONS TO Jackie Torrens for walking the talk when it comes to learning first-hand about the hardship and stigma of living in poverty.” Lenore Zann, NDP politician Truro/Bible Hill

“I think we all will learn from this.” Maureen MacDonald, Canadian academic and NDP politician. She is a member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, representing the riding of Halifax Needham.

“Terrific eye-opener for many. Let’s hope that many of those with means watched and were at least sympathetic.” Angie Birt

“That was great. Very eye opening and educating. Thank you for making this.” Anton Lucas Fenton

“Phenomenal! That was a real eye opener! Inspiring” Stacy Rudderham

“Very appreciative of @JackieTorrens opening eyes to the shameful mess that is social assistance in NS.” Robert Devet

“Best documentary ever in my opinion! Everything about it was on point! Brilliant really!!” Chandler Karlie

“I watched your Doc “My Week on Welfare” – congratulations on making such an elucidating, informative film.  Man,  in light of the senate scandals, it’s so unfair that society’s most vulnerable are expected to live on peanuts.” Joanne Coffey

“My whole family watched this 45-min. documentary — My Week on Welfare — on CBC last night. My husband and I are previous recipients of social assistance, and my mom concluded her working years on disability until she became a regular pensioner. The life we now enjoy is only possible because the three of us pool our resources and are housemates. The spectre of having to return to assistance is something that haunts me in the back of my mind forever more. In fact, I found it hard to sleep last night, mulling over my current health situation and how I’m mere steps away from the people profiled in the film. We really appreciated how Jackie Torrens’ documentary looked at three different households and thought it was a very solid representation of how people are driven to turn toward the system.” Author Julia Phillips Smith