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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

A Bad Time to be Poor: An Analysis of British Columbia's New Welfare Policies

Reports and Studies by Seth Klein, Andrea Long

In January 2002, the BC government announced a dramatic program of welfare restructuring, and a 30 percent reduction in the Ministry of Human Resources’ operating budget over the next three years. According to Klein and Long, these budgetary savings are being achieved through cuts to welfare benefits and a further tightening of eligibility rules. In the authors’ view, many of BC’s new welfare policies are radical and unprecedented in Canada. They represent a fundamental shift in Canadian social policy – the denial of welfare when in need as a basic human right.

In this report, Klein and Long review the US welfare experience, because many of BC’s new policies are borrowed from the US welfare restructuring of the 1990s. The authors then critique each of the major BC welfare policy changes in turn; they present the likely impacts of BC’s new welfare legislation; and, they highlight contradictions within the government’s policy program. To conclude, they present an alternative, progressive approach to welfare reform.

Klein and Long contend that BC’s new welfare rules are a social catastrophe in the making. They suggest the new rules, combined with an economic downturn, would prove a toxic mix with profound consequences for social and health policy. Welfare is a critical element of Canada’s social safety net – an important right in which almost all of society has a stake. The authors conclude that BC’s new welfare rules are harmful, mean-spirited, and unjustified, and that they should be thoughtfully and compassionately reconsidered.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Seth Klein; Andrea Long;
Publisher: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2003; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: Provincial;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Welfare & Social Issues / Social Security
Policy Articles / Welfare & Social Issues / Social Security / 2003
Policy Articles / Welfare & Social Issues

Keywords / Tags:

welfare; social assistance; BC's new welfare rules; welfare legislation; welfare restructuring; social policy; social safety net; welfare eligibility;