Public Perceptions About Welfare ‘fraud’ are… well… Fraudulent

One of the most persistent myths about people living with poverty in Canada is that welfare fraud is a common occurrence among those receiving social assistance. This popular misconception about welfare recipients endures despite the fact that solid research has demonstrated time and time again that credible estimates of the rate of welfare fraud place it, in Ontario for example, at less than 1%.

I recently presented a research paper, “Welfare Fraud 2.0? Using Big Data to Surveil, Stigmatize and Criminalize the Poor,” at an international academic conference organized by Carleton and Sheffield Universities.

It was incredibly rewarding to be at a conference that focused on so many of my own research interests surrounding surveillance and governance of those living with poverty.

Here’s a link to some of the conference presentations, including my own, which is the first 17 minutes:

Carleton Graduate Students Win Eminent Awards

From the Carleton Newsroom:

Carleton Graduate Students Win Eminent Awards

Two Carleton University graduate students, Kathy Dobson and Colin Miyata have won prestigious Vanier Scholarships worth $50,000 per year for up to three years. Unknown

Miyata works in Mojtaba Ahmadi’s Advanced Biomechatronics and Locomotion (ABL) laboratory in the research intensive Faculty of Engineering and Design at Carleton, where researchers are working on developing devices to help people learn how to walk again and prevent patient falls after a stroke, injury or accident.

Miyata believes safety procedures should be in place to ensure safe human-robot interaction. He is developing a process that will help. His research will develop a sensor on the surface of a robot that will them to sense contact with the environment. When contact is detected, the robot will avoid it while continuing its task.

Dobson, now doing her PhD with the School of Journalism and Communication, looks at representations of the poor, including representations by social welfare and government agencies, media platforms and how these can reinforce self-conceptions of those living in poverty.

In addition to their Vanier awards, Dobson has also been offered a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, while Miyata has been offered an Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Quotes:

As a single parent on welfare, my mother fought for social justice, improved health care and education. She was always asking whose voices are missing whenever social workers and policy-makers would talk about the cycle of poverty and insisted we needed to develop a common language when speaking about poverty and the poor.
— Dobson

During my time at Carleton, I have had many opportunities to research a wide variety of biomedical engineering applications including implant materials, assistive devices, crash test dummy instrumentation and robotics. — Miyata.

Media Contact
Steven Reid
Media Relations Officer
Carleton University
613-520-2600 ext. 8718
613-265-6613
Steven_Reid3@Carleton.ca

 

Does Public Speaking Make Everyone Feel Nervous?

After speaking at the Montreal “Books and Breakfast,” an event I wrote about a few months ago, I thought I had mostly overcome my fear of public speaking.

A large audience, including many from the publishing industry, all gathered in a large ballroom of a fancy downtown hotel had their eyes trained on me for fifteen minutes straight while I babbled incoherently about my recently published book, With a Closed Fist: Growing up in Canada’s Toughest Neighbourhood.

Looking back, it was sort of like peeling the Band-Aid off all at once. With a machete. For someone with a fear of public speaking it was a ‘trial by fire crash course’ kind of scenario.

In the end, as I’ve previously wrote about here, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. Sure, I didn’t exactly sound off-the-cuff with my crumpled-up cue cards scrunched between my sweaty, shaky palms. But I had been afraid that when I walked up to the podium, I’d forget how to speak, becoming temporarily blind, deaf, and mute.

I admit that, looking back, anticipating it was much worse than actually doing it. (Okay, that’s not actually true. Doing it was much worse than anticipating it. I just say this to make myself feel better.)

After the Books and Breakfast event, I figured I’d be up for anything. I was now a war-hardened, veteran public speaker. Compared to the Books and Breakfast, speaking at the Ingleside Public Library would be like just talking to a small group of close friends. Right?

So naturally, I was a complete nervous wreck.

At the Books and Breakfast, something that was surprisingly comforting was the fact that I felt like I couldn’t see the audience. My field of vision was limited to the three inches between my face and the cue cards. The ballroom where the event was held was so large, and the lights were so bright, it was almost like the audience was lost in a fog. Sort of like that saying about “not seeing the forest because of the trees.”

But in the library, I was going to see each individual person. They weren’t some large anonymous crowd who, if I utterly humiliated myself in front of them, I could cry and run off the stage and drive 500 kilometers away and begin the slow, painful process of blocking the memory out and hoping it never resurfaces.

This was a room filled with people whom I’ve known for years and consider many of them to be pretty close friends. People that I really care about what they think of me. Especially considering how personal and raw and vulnerable the subject matter of my book is.

I’d be speaking to people like Jackie from the post office, who my son Scott, at age four, vowed to marry one day. And Sandy Winchester and Margaret Power, two of my children’s favourite teachers, the kind of teachers who make life long lasting impressions on many of their students.

In the end, I wish I could go back in time and tell myself not to worry- that it really would be like speaking to a group of my closest friends. And that I think I’ve finally overcome my fear of public speaking.

Yeah. Right.

 

-Kathy