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Home Policy Articles: Children & Family

As the concept of the family has changed over the years, and continues to evolve at the dawn of the 21st century, government policy and practice have adapted accordingly. Policies pertaining to children and families typically focus on how governments plan to ensure adequate standards of living and social justice for families of all kinds. To this end, fundamental debates are most often rooted in issues such as welfare reform, the delivery of social services, and childcare, while the status of women as well as domestic violence are also critical issues.

This section offers insights into the many and varied issues concerning children and families in Canada.



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A Civil Argument About Dignity, Beliefs and Marriage popular

This brief discussion paper by Iain Benson discusses the challenges to of the same-sex marriage debate in Canada. He includes the history of marriage, as well as the legal, religious and social aspects of marriage in Canada.

A Law Against Poverty: Québec’s New Approach to Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion popular

This article by Alain Noël examines Québec’s new Anti-Poverty Law (bill 112), which he considers moves Québec’s “social policy agenda farther from that of its neighbours and closer to the preoccupations of European countries.” He demonstrates that it is a law “drafted from below”, in that the basic framework it proposes originated not from government offices but from community groups and social actors. Noël then frames the poverty question into statistical terms, arguing that Statistics Canada’s poverty rates, which traditionally showed Québec to be the most poverty-plagued province in Canada, are misleading; by taking into account cost of living indicators, he shows, Québec and Ontario’s poverty rates are found to be more or less equal. Québec’s situation is thus comparable to that of the rest of Canada.

A Life-Course Approach to Social Policy Analysis: A Proposed Framework popular

This discussion paper provides a framework for social policy based on a hypothetical person ('Olivia') whose life experience are typical of many Canadians. This new framework would consist of social policy focused on individuals rather than groups of individuals. The paper explains that this required a recognition of social capital and its impacts on life, the realities of the market for different individuals and the importance of agencies that effect Canadian's lives. It is suggested that such a framework be used to inform social policy.

A Proposal for Restructuring the Universal Child Care Benefit popular

In this brief paper, Richard Zuker proposes restructuring the Conservative Party’s Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB). Zuker’s proposal is intended to address some criticisms of the program. According to the author, the UCCB has been criticized at the policy framework and design levels.

Assessing Family Policy in Canada: A New Deal for Families and Children popular

Lefebvre and Merrigan begin their report by pointing out that most children in Canada are emotionally, physically, and socially healthy, yet they suggest there are some disturbing trends relating to children in Canada. Recent reports have revealed that child abuse and neglect have increased, juvenile crime is rising, children are consuming more alcohol and drugs than previous generations, and suicide rates are rising.

Combatting the Social Exclusion of At-Risk Groups popular

This paper deals with the concept of social exclusion as it is linked to poverty in Canada. The author, Meyer Burstein, identifies the situations of 'at-risk' groups and explains why their plight may be more difficult to escape than others living in poverty. Burstein also considers innovative methods that have been used to help socially excluded groups abroad and considers factors that must be included in assisting the socially excluded.

Measuring child benefits: Measuring child poverty popular

Michael Mendelson studies the child benefits provided by the federal government to Canadian families.

Quality of Life of Aboriginal People in Canada: An Analysis of Current Research popular

Daniel Salée explores the current state of knowledge regarding the broad issues affecting Aboriginal people in Canada.

Redesigning the “Welfare Mix” for Families: Policy Challenges popular

In this paper, Jane Jenson examines the welfare mix in Canada: the policies and programs adopted by the Canadian government in response to the challenges of restructured labour markets, deepening poverty, economic marginalization and social exclusion, changing family patterns, an ageing society, and the evolution to a knowledge-based economy. Jenson suggests the concept of welfare goes beyond social assistance; according to Jenson, the four sources of welfare include market income, family resources, community resources, and government assistance.

$7-a-day childcare: Are parents getting what they need?

Norma Kozhaya says this model of daycare benefits some parents and harms others. Researchers estimated that families with annual incomes between $25,000 and $40,000 were worse off under the new system, while families with incomes of $60,000 or more benefit most.

A Civil Argument About Dignity, Beliefs and Marriage

Ian T. Benson wrote this brief regarding the Civil Marriage Act (Bill C-38). Benson argues that the central problem with the marriage debate is that the fundamental starting points of both sides are irreconcilable.

A World Fit for Children

In this commentary, Sherri Torjman describes what a world fit for children entails. She highlights the vision of Senator Landon Pearson who, she contends, has worked tirelessly for many years to create such a world.

Assessing the CAPC/CPNP Joint Management Infrastructure as a Model for FPT Collaboration: Looking Back and Moving Forward

This report by David Hay, Brian Bell, Judi Varga-Toth, and Tatyaba Teplova aims to describe and review the federal/provincial/territorial joint management infrastructure (JMI) that oversees the Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) and the Canada Parental Nutrition Program (CPNP). The authors also seek to determine the broader potential of multi-level governance and how it may be used to advance the goals of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). The report includes an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities affecting the infrastructure of the CAPC and the CPNP as well as suggestions for new research and steps towards the most effective structure possible.

Asset-Based Social Policies – A "New Idea" Whose Time Has Come?

Andrew Jackson approaches the topic of asset-based social policies as an “informed skeptic.”

BC Solutions Budget 2006: Budgeting for Women's Equality

Despite a strong economy in British Columbia, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives argues that women have been largely excluded from its benefits.

Behind the Issues: Ontario 2003 - Investing in quality child care

The CCPA examines child and family poverty in Ontario, with a specific focus on child-care programs. It argues the next provincial government must ensure that all families can share in the province’s collective prosperity; this includes having access to child care so that parents can work.

Bill C-38 and Public Education -- A Brief for the Legislative Committee

In this brief paper Peter Lauwers discusses the impact that a same sex marriage law would have on the curriculum of public schools.

Bringing Cities to the Table: Child Care and Intergovernmental Relations

This article by Jane Jensen and Rianne Mahon uses child care as “a lens to examine governance relations, both democratic and intergovernmental” between cities, provinces and the federal government. The first section describes the patterns and practices of accountability in Canada, specifically analysing three Canadian cities (Toronto, Hamilton and Vancouver), coming to the conclusion that modernizing these patterns and practices poses quite a conundrum as all cities are far from equal. The second section thus challenges the universal validity of three assertions: “That decentralization will automatically foster more integrated services; that decentralization will necessarily undermine equity and that Canada’s constitutional arrangements make it impossible for municipalities to have a direct relationship with the federal government”, concluding that the most important factor in determining whether a “danger” or an “impossibility” exists in any of the aforementioned assertions is “political, not constitutional or institutional.” The third section then offers means of progressing from the lessons learned in the first two sections. It offers, for instance, the idea that “there is a trade-off between equity across space and local knowledge of needs.”

Caring for Canadians in a Canada Strong and Free

Former Ontario Premier Mike Harris and former Reform Party leader Preston Manning discuss the “vision deficit” and “policy deficit” they consider to be evident in Canadian politics, particularly at the federal level.

Challenging McWorld

This book-length publication is available for purchase from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA); the table of contents and introduction are available in PDF format on the CCPA website. Challenging McWorld explores the increase in youth activism in the late 1990s, beginning with the World Trade Organization summit meeting in Seattle in 1999.

Child Tax Deception: the Proposed Child Tax Deduction

In this report Ken Battle argues against the Conservative proposal to introduce a $2,000 child tax deduction, stating that this would be most beneficial to wealthy families.

Child Tax Deception: the Proposed Child Tax Deduction

Ken Battle considers the federal Conservative Party’s child tax deduction proposal to be “retrograde and regressive.”

COEP: Brazilian organizations

In this international community story, Ann Simpson discusses COEP – the Comitê de Entidades no Combate à Fome e Pela Vida (“Committee of entities Against Hunger and For Life”) – a Brazilian network that mobilizes organizations to combat hunger and poverty.

Community Action in Saint John: Making a Difference in the Lives of Young People

The Business Community Anti-Poverty Initiative (BCAPI) in Saint John is a Vibrant Communities convenor agency concerned with the welfare of teenagers who are pregnant or have children. Anne Makhoul explains that BCAPI began in 1997 in response to the high rate of poverty in Saint John.

Deliberative Polling in Canada Workshop

This report examines Deliberative Polling, a method for discerning public opinion developed by Dr. James Fishkin. This approach combines traditional public opinion polling with group deliberation.

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