Policy Articles: Welfare & Social Issues
The ability for Canadian governments to provide assistance and create opportunities for the less advantaged members of society is based on an extensive system of social services in Canada. However, many public policy experts argue that there is always room for improvement when it comes to the provision of social services. Welfare and social policy examines such topics as housing policy, privatization of service delivery, the increasing demands on services as a result of an ageing population, and social security reform.
This section of policy.ca is your window to welfare and social policy debates in Canada.
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.
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.
This short paper by Satya Brink seeks to address policy issues surrounding the care of elderly people by family members who are employed outside the home.
Philippe H. Trudel, Bruce W. Johnston, and Michel Bédard explore what kinds of health care reforms can occur under existing laws. They also examine how much room the provinces have to manoeuvre under current federal legislation, namely, the Canada Health Act, as well as which laws reform-minded provincial governments could modify.
Michael Mendelson studies the child benefits provided by the federal government to Canadian families.
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.
Steve Kerstetter’s article “Markers” of Wealth and Poverty in BC examines Statistic Canada financial data to understand who is likely to be rich and who is likely to be poor in British Columbia. Kerstetter draws a strong correlation between wealth and income, finding those with higher income often have great wealth, while the reverse is true for those with low income.
Even though there have been positive signs in the Manitoban economy, this paper cautions that problems lie ahead: a) a growing gap between rich and poor; b) the inequality between women and men in income; c) poor environmental policy; d) a growing concern for farmers; e) a failing health care system; and f) a crumbling urban infrastructure.
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.
Like other communities in the Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) project, residents of Spryfield are cognizant of the high level of poverty, large proportion of lone-parent families, and rising school dropout rates in their community.
Brett Skinner, Mark Rovere, and Courtney Glen analyze the time that patients must wait between the discovery of a new drug and its availability to Canadian consumers.
In this brief article Anne Makhoul describes Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC), a 14-month “strategic research and learning project that will assess how locally-driven revitalization strategies can help citizens build strong, sustainable neighbourhoods.”
In her article Anne Makhoul characterizes Scarborough Village as an area of high-rise apartment buildings, large roadways, few amenities, and a community inhabited by a culturally diverse, multilingual population.
This paper explores the notion of wage supplementation in Canada as a solution to the high levels of failure to reach the poverty-income line (as defined by Statistics Canada).
Andrew Jackson approaches the topic of asset-based social policies as an “informed skeptic.”
Anne Makhoul describes the influence of the Calgary and Area United Way vis-à-vis the review and modification of the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program.
Michael Shapcott examines the issue of affordable housing in the provincial election campaign. He notes that, in the 1995 election, the Conservative government came to power on a promise to get the government out of the housing business and let the private market deliver new, much-needed affordable housing for low-income Ontarians.
In his report, Michael Oliphant examines the issues of welfare. In the 1995 and 1999 elections, welfare was a hot-button issue; however, it is noticeably absent from the 2003 debate. Despite its disappearance from campaign debates, Oliphant contends the need for welfare is increasing in Ontario.
Jill Casner-Lotto reports on the challenges and promises that lie ahead for human resource management in the nonprofit sector.
Stuart Murray and Hugh Mackenzie argue that raising the minimum wage across all Canadian provinces to $10 an hour is possible and necessarily fair. They report that since the minimum wage hit an all-time low between 1984-1990, it has remained stagnant with only minimal increases.
A movement, called Food Charters, is taking place in Canada to build a strategy for good food policy, to mobilize action at the local and regional levels, and to influence public policy.
In many Canadian cities, middle-class homeowners are sitting on greater wealth than would have been the case than by simply saving.
In Building on Our Strengths: Inner-city Priorities for a Renewed Tri-Level Development Agreement, Jim Silver, of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, proposes a new inner-city funding agreement for Winnipeg. Silver’s argument draws upon interviews with representatives from 100 community-based, inner-city organizations, and is based upon what he sees as real gains achieved through the past agreement in confronting inner- city poverty. According to Silver, these gains ought to be sustained through the establishment of a new tri-level funding agreement for Winnipeg.
This article by Matthew Mendelsohn provides “a detailed synthesis of the last ten years of Canadian public opinion data on what Canadians think about the social contract”, specifically how Canadians are “reconciling pressures for competitiveness, innovation, efficiency, and globalization, with the traditional view of a sharing and caring Canadian identity.” Mendelsohn finds that Canadians are overwhelmingly internationalist, open to immigration and integration, and manifest a strong sentiment of social solidarity and of belonging to the Canadian state. They have, however, moved away from the traditional left by becoming more open to trade liberalization and being committed to the maintenance of a balanced budget.
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.