After government came to Newfoundland, fishermen who had a bad season due to the scarcity of fish, low market prices or the failure of their subsistence crops, could get some kind of government assistance to help their families survive.
Known as the dole, these payments were small (about six cents per family per day) and provided about half of a person’s total nutritional requirements. Applicants did not receive money to buy what they wanted, instead had to accept items from a list. For example, a single adult on the dole could receive in one month: 25 pounds of flour, almost four pounds of fat back pork, two pounds of beans, two pounds of corn meal, one pound of split peas, three-quarters of a pound of cocoa, and one quart of molasses.
Between one quarter and one third of Newfoundland's 300,000 residents were on the dole for each year of the 1930s.