UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Impact of welfare cheque issue days on a service for those intoxicated in public Li, Xin; Sun, Huiying; Marsh, David C; Anis, Aslam H


In British Columbia (BC), the Ministry of Human Resources issues welfare cheques to eligible recipients monthly on the last Wednesday of each month. Previous studies have indicated that there are significant increases in hospital admission, ED admission, 911 calls and deaths shortly after the distribution of the monthly welfare cheques. The objective of this analysis was to rigorously examine the impact of welfare cheque issue dates on admission to the Sobering Unit (SU), a service for the publicly intoxicated, in Vancouver, Canada. Data on 1234 consecutive admissions to the SU over a 7-month period were assessed, and the average number of daily admissions on each of the 7 days of the welfare cheque issue week and similar weekdays in other weeks were compared. A Wilcoxon rank-sum test was performed for the comparisons. Our results showed that there were significant increases in the number of admissions on the 3 days starting with "Welfare Wednesday" compared to the similar weekdays in other weeks (Welfare Wednesday vs. other Wednesdays: 8.7 vs. 5.1, p = 0.02; Welfare Thursdays vs. other Thursdays: 9.6 vs. 5.3, p = 0.02; Welfare Fridays vs. other Fridays: 8.6 vs. 5.7, p = 0.04). The demonstrated impact of welfare cheque issue dates is an important consideration for the re-design, staffing and resource allocation of services for withdrawal management and potentially for other services offered to this population.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)