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Home Policy Articles: Children & Family: Page 2

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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Early Learning and Child Care in Saskatchewan: Past, Present and Future

In this paper Martha Friendly discusses the early learning and childcare imitative outlined in the 2004 Federal Liberal campaign. She focuses on where the plan homes from and the specific challenges Saskatchewan faces in implementing it.

Errors and Omissions in Bill C-38 as Passed by the House: The Need for Senate Recommendations for Amendments

In this brief Iain T. Benson argues that, in the case of divisive issues like marriage, special attention must be paid to process and analysis.

Exploring the Promise of Asset-Based Social Policies: Reviewing Evidence from Research and Practice

This paper explores the potential benefits of polices which aim to increase assets for low income earners. The paper includes discussions of asset-based polices, the challenges they entail and future directions for research in the area. Throughout the paper consideration of poverty reduction and social exclusion are a focus.

Family Values: Choosing a “Made in Canada” Family Policy

This article by Stephen Vail analyzes Canadian policy pertaining to the family in relation to that of seven other leading industrialized countries (the United States, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Australia, and Japan). Vail’s main conclusion is that “Canada can choose its own course in social policy – illustrated by its approach to supporting families with children, despite increased global and North American economic integration.” Though Canada’s federal and provincial governments have increased spending on family policies and considered it a greater priority, suggests Vail, additional evidence of “the effectiveness of publicly funded family programs will be needed to maintain or secure additional funding when governments are faced with competing public priorities.” In the article Vail cites early childhood learning and its later effects on graduation rates as an example of family policy.

Financial Capability and Poverty

This discussion paper considers the connection between exclusion and poverty in light of financial literacy and financial capability. First, these components are defined as including an understanding of the financial basics, confidence in that knowledge and the ability to act fiscally responsible. These traits are learned and therefore those who are excluded from mainstream society are less likely to acquire such knowledge. Naturally the report make the connection between poetry and exclusion, and exclusion and deepening poverty.

Finding Common Ground on Child Care

According to Ken Battle, Sherri Torjman and Michael Mendelson, the Conservative Party’s Choice in Child Care Allowance is flawed. This new plan, the authors contend, has a hidden cost: that of higher income taxes and lower payments.

Fragile Recovery: The State of Public Services in Manitoba

A number of contributors helped prepare this Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) report which assesses the state of Manitoba’s public services – including health care, education, emergency services, parks, libraries, and cultural institutions.

How the Marriage Challenge Developed

Iain Benson briefly discusses what he sees as the evolution of the breakdown of the sanctity of marriage. He sees this as including divorce, common law relationships and gay marriage.

How the Marriage Challenge Developed

In his paper Iain T. Benson explores changes in law and in society that have paved the way for the current debate about marriage.

In For the Long Haul: Women's Organizations in Manitoba

In this report Joan Grace examines the women’s movement in Manitoba and discusses how women have organized since the demise of the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women (MACSW) in 1999.

Learning and Evaluation for Poverty Reduction

This paper is the sixth in a series devoted to finding community level solutions to the problem of poverty. Sherri Torjman considers community learning and how it can improve the local effects of this initiative.

Lifting the Boats: Policies to Make Work Pay

This research paper by Ron Saunders is concerned with the persistence of low wages (below $10/ hour) for a sixth of the population despite a growing economy in Canada. Saunders identifies instruments that would effectively allow all people to benefit from a "rising economic tide." Suggestions include raising minimum wage as well as improved benefits for low wage and part time workers and special provisions for disadvantaged groups.

Making Early Childhood Development a Priority: Lessons from Vancouver

Canadians have become increasingly aware of the benefits of early childhood development. Clyde Hertzman points out that it is now recognized, from both a scientific and government perspective, that early childhood experiences can have a profound impact on health, wellbeing, and coping skills throughout one’s life.

Measuring child benefits: Measuring child poverty

This report by Michael Mendelson seeks to determine what child poverty is as well as what qualifies as an adequate child benefit.

More Than a Name Change: The Universal Child Care Benefit

The Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) is the Harper government’s first major social policy initiative since taking office. As the authors point out, UCCB has improved since its was first proposed as the Choice in Child Care Allowance. In their view, however, two serious flaws remain. According to Ken Battle, Sherri Torjman and Michael Mendelson, one flaw is that the UCCB will be taxable for the lower-earner parent in a couple and the lone parent in single-parent families. As a result, families with the same income but of a different type will receive different after-tax benefits. In the new program, single-parent families will end up with the smallest after-tax benefits. The other problem with the UCCB, the authors posit, is the abolishment of the $249 annual young child-care supplement that was part of the Canada Child Tax Benefit. Mainly low- and modest-income families used this supplement; in the authors view, its loss, along with the increase in taxable income, will make the distribution of net benefits unfair.

Poverty and Exclusion: Normative Approaches to Policy Research

This paper by Pearl Eliadis examines the approaches that have been taken to reduce poverty and ultimately finds them insufficient due to their focus on legal legitimacy rather than practical outcome. Eliadis argues that this approach comes from a reliance on old methods that have lost their effectiveness. She points to many changes in both the legal strength of rights and the way in which Canadians view poverty. Essentially, Eliadis suggests that government policy keep up to the changes seen in Canadian mentality.

Poverty Profile 2001

This in-depth report examines poverty as it existed in Canada in 2001. The report provides information on poverty trends, the depth and persistence of poverty in Canada, and what contributes to poverty. Also, the report examines how work, education, area of residence, and income inequality affect poverty rates.

Promises to Keep: The Nova Scotia Child Poverty Report Card 2003 (1989-2001)

Raven and Frank provide key statistics and promote discussion regarding what can be done about child and family poverty in a nation as wealthy as Canada. The authors focus on child poverty in Nova Scotia, where, they point out, the increase in child poverty is greater than the average increase across provinces.

Quality Counts: Assessing the Quality of Daycare Services Based on the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development

In this edition of Choices, Christina Japel, Richard Tremblay, and Sylvana Côté examine the unique childcare program in Quebec and evaluate it by analyzing the results of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (QLSCD). As the authors explain, Quebec’s approach to childcare is different than that of most provinces because resources are allocated to service providers rather than families; furthermore, childcare is available at a fixed-fee rate for all children under the age pf four, irrespective of family income. In their research, Japel, Tremblay, and Côté also consider other studies pertaining to the importance of quality in childcare vis-à-vis child development and well-being.

Quality of Life in Canada: A Citizen’s Report Card

This report, authored by Sandra Zagon, attempts to identify the standards Canadians associate with quality of life to then evaluate how Canada measures up to this standard. Following numerous dialogue sessions with Canadians “from all walks of life” Zagon identified 40 indicators of quality of life, which she has grouped under 9 main themes. These include health, democratic rights and participation, education and the environment. It is difficult, Zagon argues, to generally state whether Canada has made progress in the last ten years in regards to quality of life; certain indicators show progress, some are stagnant, and others have deteriorated. Still, the study identifies several data gaps which need to be addressed prior to any declaration on progress or regression of quality of life.

Quebec’s Relative Poverty

In this economic note, Norma Kozhaya discusses Quebec’s relative poverty compared to other Canadian provinces and US states.

Quebec’s Tax and Regulatory Burden

Newly elected Premier Jean Charest stated that his government must lower taxes because the current load is hindering Quebec’s development. In this Economic Note the authors assess the size of the province’s tax burden and present a clear picture of the challenge awaiting the new government.

Responding to Wife Abuse in Farm and Rural Communities: Searching for Solutions that Work

Against the backdrop of an increased focus on abuse of women in rural and farm communities, this paper highlights the importance of looking at the social and cultural context of abuse and understanding community values and norms.

Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative: What We Heard

In December 1999 the federal government created the National Homelessness Initiative (NHI), a $753 million program aimed at helping communities confront the problem of homelessness in Canada. The cornerstone of the NHI is the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative (SCPI), designed to provide targeted funding to community organizations to help them alleviate homelessness at the local level.

Supreme Court Finally Asked a Real Question

Iain Benson briefly comments on the same-sex marriage reference question posed to the Supreme Court of Canada by the House of Commons.

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