Rates of Income Assistance

PRINT FIRST – The Poverty Trap-Set up and Rules of the activity


This activity is intended to raise awareness about living on income assistance in Nova Scotia. It is a hands on activity where participants role play one of five different real life scenarios and have to budget their income in order to meet their month requirements for the necessities of life, entertainment and unexpected circumstances.


1)    There are five different Real Life Scenarios  to assign to the participants:

a)    Marie, Samuel, Elena & Isaac are immigrants to Canada. Marie & Samuel are a married couple and Elena & Isaac are Samuel’s parents. One to four participants may be involved in scenario. For example, one player may take on the role of  “head of the household” and make the decisions for the family or up to four players can play the various characters and the decisions can be made together. (Download Story and budget for SCENARIO 1 – Maria, Samuel, Elena & Isaac)

b)    Jordon is an adult with a disability. One participant is required for this scenario. (Download Story and budget for SCENARIO 2 – Jordon)

c)     Taylor is a single parent who has three children Sam (16), Jes (13) & Alex (10). This Scenario can have one participant taking on the role of Taylor or it can have up to four participants who take on the role of Taylor and the children. (Download Story and budget for SCENARIO 3 – Taylor, Sam, Jes & Alex)

d)    Peyton  is a young adult and can be played by one male or female player. (Download Story and budget for SCENARIO 4 – Peyton)

e)    Morgan is a one single mother of a very young child. This scenario requires one participant. (Download Story and budget for SCENARIO 5 – Morgan)

2)    If you have more than 11 participants when running this activity, you may assign different participants to the same scenarios. For example, you may have two completely different groups of four people acting out the characters from Scenario A. In the end of the activity each of these groups may have made very different decisions about how to budget their money, which would make for very interesting discussion at the end.

3)    You will see the Scenarios 1-5. Each of these Scenarios include a budget sheet and all the information the participants will need at the beginning of the game explaining who the characters are, their situation and the breakdown of their Income Assistance. You must print these off for the participant(s) playing the different scenarios. For example, if you have three groups playing Scenario 1, then you will require three copies of this. Also print,UNEXPECTED CIRCUMSTANCE for Scenarios 1-5  you will need this during the game but the participants are not given it at the beginning of the game. These UNEXPECTED CIRCUMSTANCES will need to be cut apart so they can be handed out later in the game. You will require one copy of this for each set of scenarios. For example, if you have three different groups acting out scenario 1, you will require three copies of these sheets.

4)     There are eight different files corresponding to: Classes/Lessons, School/Childcare, Shelter, Personal Needs, Getting around, Entertainment, Eating, & finally Communications. In each of these folders there is a heading page and then a number of tickets that fall within that heading. For example under Communication there are tickets for different cell phone plans, telephone plans, internet packages, itunes cards and long distance cards. The number of tickets are intended to be used with one set of scenarios. If you are using the scenarios more than once each, then print more tickets out. For example, if you have enough participants to have two of each scenario please print the sets of tickets twice. Print each of these files. Ideally they would be on card stock of different colours but this is not essential. For example: green for shelter, blue for classes-lessons.  Cut the sheets containing the “tickets” into individual tickets and keep them with their corresponding heading.