Guide Changing Politics of Canadian Social Policy

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Envisaging and Establishing a System of Social Security. Canadian Perspectives. Retrenching the Welfare State. Remixing the Provision of Social. Changes to Canadian Social Policy. What Are the Responses to Economic Globalization? Diversity and Equality in a Pluralist Welfare Community. His and Her States of Welfare. Links between Social. Child welfare services are predominantly offered as a government service through ministries.

Where private not for profit agencies deliver such services, for example, in Ontario, the primary funding source is the provincial government, who also determine the legislative and policy framework for the delivery of service. I would like to spotlight some of the issues that compromise well-being in Canada.

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Once I have explored these, I will examine the role of social work in this contemporary era. This reflection is being presented with the Justin Trudeau government in its 3rd year in power, elections looming in A major driver regarding social policy has been the advocacy of Indigenous Canadians who demand that the intergenerational and extensive harm resulting out of colonialism be recognized.

Their voices are being heard, hopefully in a new way. The formal apology by Prime Minister Harper to Indigenous persons regarding residential schools as well as the report emerging out of the Truth and Reconciliation set the stage for change. Much of the state response has been symbolic, but these formal acknowledgements of the harm perpetuated historically have created greater space for articulating the truths of the Indigenous experience and for seeking opportunities for reconciliation.

There is some limited movement towards official understanding regarding past harms and the ways in which current policies perpetuate oppression. Greater nation to nation discussion and respect of treaties and international declarations has been demanded and is beginning to occur. A notable example is that in the highest court of the land has redirected the federal government to review its consultation process regarding the proposed Kinder Morgan bitumen pipeline expansion and thus all governmental decisions with an environmental impact.

On a provincial level, it was decided in British Columbia in that ocean salmon farms which cause risk for wild salmon populations and thus also for whales should be halted. The connection between such initiatives and Indigenous food sustainability as well as maintenance of cultural practices is recognised in this decision.

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Food sustainability is a particular concern for isolated communities, and in this regard, there has been some indication that there might be improved and consistent subsidization. Indigenous communities are especially vulnerable to environmental harms, caused primarily by economic exploitation. Grassy Narrows is a community that has become known for the impact of lead on health and wellbeing- lead that has leaked from a mine tailings dam. Clean water security thus remains fragile. There is a promised increase to education funding, based on per capita enrollment and under the discretion of band councils, which should ease the historical concerns regarding education.

In British Columbia, the educational curriculum now requires that Indigenous history and worldviews be reflected in primary and secondary education.

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Limited supports are offered to enable Indigenous students to proceed to and succeed in tertiary education. As inferred earlier, efforts are being made to ensure culturally appropriate and meaningful responses regarding child welfare, though the situation regarding the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in care remains dire. Suicide rates are especially high on reserves, particularly for youth. While there has been talk of making mental health services more available, shifts in this area are slow, and potentially not the response that will address this deep alienation and anomie.

The vulnerability of Indigenous women and the lack of intentional responses through the systems of law and order have been formally acknowledged by the establishment of a commission. This commission has completed its hearings, but has been plagued by challenges, undermining and constraining the voices of those who might be willing to name the losses and harms associated with the injustices perpetrated against Indigenous girls and women. Only in recent months has forced sterilization of Indigenous women come to light.

Another area of overrepresentation and harm is that of the criminal justice system, the shift towards ever more punitive penal approaches having exacerbated the situation Hunter, Canadian systems have long been identified as containing inherent institutional racial bias and visible minorities and Aboriginal persons are markedly overrepresented in the criminal justice system where they are more likely to be surveilled, charged, sentenced to longer terms, and released later than other Canadians Mullins, The Canadian Broadcasting company has in and highlighted inherent racism within the Thunder Bay and Toronto police services.

Adequate housing on reserves is a further concern. It is evident that Indigenous communities are plagued by intersecting challenges that are exacerbated by outdated and discriminatory policies. As noted, inequity in Canada has increased substantially in recent decades. A challenge regarding social policy development in the area of poverty is that a standard, agreed upon measure of poverty is absent in Canada Hunter, Nevertheless, one can assert that the quality of life has decreased for many Canadians as poverty has increased.

Ultimately, income inequality is a primary driver of poverty including childhood poverty, explaining why poverty has not lessened despite income growth Hunter, One in three single adults years ; one in five persons living with a disability; one in five lone parent families typically headed by women ; one in six immigrants particularly those arriving after and one in six Aboriginal persons are poor Chappell, Persons in poverty often live in impoverished, disadvantaged communities, this compounding challenges. Those finding themselves in poverty mostly struggle to move into a more secure income level Hunter, Many Canadians find themselves in chronic underemployment Chappell, or in precarious employment.

There is growing wage inequality Hunter, The so-called gig economy might in theory offer flexible employment but attracts primarily those who are unable to access other job opportunities. However, such challenges are framed as individuals having poor attachment to the economy, rather than structural contributors being addressed Hunter, Using the Low-income Cut-Off measure, fourteen percent of children live in poverty, with some provinces reporting at least a quarter of children being impacted by inadequate income Chappell, ; Hunter, Only in Quebec is there a comprehensive family policy as well as affordable child care Chappell, Subsidized child care spaces are at a premium, many children not finding space within this system.

Indigenous and racialized children are particularly vulnerable to poverty. Poverty is evidenced in food insecurity, a persistent problem despite the introduction of a federal guide Action Plan for Food Security and the provision of free food, nutrition education programs, food kitchen, community gardens or food box programs in many communities. As asserted by Graham, Swift and Delaney, , p. Both rental and owned properties are becoming harder for low- and middle-class income earners to access. Even middle-class earners are in certain contexts need to decide between paying their rents and buying food.

Currently, single, poor mothers, who cannot raise families on limited state supports, are rewarded for integration into the workforce by receiving various benefits, though these workfare programs do not necessarily ameliorate poverty Hunter, ; Lessa, The lack of affordable daycare spaces is a further barrier especially for mothers who are typically the caregivers Lessa, However, poor Canadians do not receive the same healthcare as their richer counterparts due to a range of factors.

Certain medical concerns such as dental care, physiotherapy and vision care are not offered across the board. Benefits offered by employers allow those working to access such services. Some provinces require that an annual premium be paid. Wait times have been a concern for a number of years, those with financial security sometimes paying for health care services outside of Canada.

Another issue is that health care provision is substantially better in urban areas. Moreover, although a pharmacare program is available to indigent patients, expensive medications tend to be available only to those on medical benefits. Thus, although a two-tiered system is officially resisted, in practice poor Canadians have significantly less access to adequate health care.

Those living in poverty face barriers in many areas of their lives. Activists have been calling for a national poverty strategy and thus a systemic, systematic response. Regarding historical injustices, Canada has needed to account for amongst others the head tax imposed on Chinese workers in the 19th century; the limitations on Japanese immigration as well as the internment of Japanese Canadians; and the rejection of Jewish refugees during the Second World War George, ; Mullins, While immigration has always been contested, it appeared for the first time in with the rhetoric of Maxime Bernier that it might become an issue motivating political action and polarization.

Canada is perceived internationally as welcoming refugees and offering clear settlement programs. The detention allowed under the Act potentially traumatizes particularly children and youth who may be held separated from their families Chappell, Other challenges include the difficulty newcomers often have in finding work educational and professional qualifications frequently are not recognized Chappell, Having been granted entry on a points system, the challenges in securing an adequate income, loss of status and general racism if they are part of an identifiable minority is distressing- especially when gratitude is expected from dominant society.

Mental health issues are prevalent amongst newcomers, because of the trauma often encountered in their countries and en route to Canada, but also because of the struggles in finding a meaningful place in Canadian society. George points out that immigrants from visible minority groups are often disadvantaged in comparison to immigrants who appear white- indeed, the prejudices they experience continue to impede settlement long after their newcomer status has passed.

Further, those identified as visible minorities frequently are treated as newcomers through generations of settlement in Canada George, These various barriers increasingly place immigrants in a precarious situation, newcomers often dealing with poverty George, A group often overlooked when considering refugees and immigrants are temporary migrants, who typically enter Canada for seasonal work.

Temporary migrants also face many barriers in participating in Canadian society and accessing relevant supports. Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms along with its equality clause passed in , each individual in Canada has the right to expect equal treatment regardless of their social location Mullins, Mullins argues that one area where there is patent inequality is in the area or employment despite the Employment Equity Act of , racialized groups feeling the impact.

The Human Rights Tribunal shows clear bias and discrimination against racialized groups Mullings, This is primarily attributed to the new sanctioning of racist behaviour under the Trump administration, this being seen to legitimize such behaviour also in Canada.

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There was a lethal attack on a mosque in Montreal in Thus being an immigrant, refugee or a racialized person increases the risk of daily discrimination. In , Canada was amongst the first countries to legalize same-sex marriages. In , Prime Minister Trudeau made a formal apology to gays and lesbians who had been shamed and excluded from civil service and military life if their sexual orientation became known. Transgender persons no longer need to choose a sex on official documents. Despite increasing acceptance and acknowledgement of a spectrum regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, Canada continues to be a heteronormative society.

Indeed in , gay activists in Toronto alleged that a series of murders targeting men having sex with men were initially under-investigated. Offering toilets that are not gender exclusive has not yet become the norm. Because of the aging baby boomers, increased life expectancy and declining birth rates, seniors occupy an ever-growing proportion of the Canadian population Chappell, Social welfare policy needs to pay greater attention to this diverse sector of Canadians, especially those who are frail or have mental health issues Chappell, ; Neysmith, The old age grants, which between — raised many elderly persons out of poverty, have not been increased significantly.

The associated bureaucracy prevents all claimants applying for benefits.

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As a consequence, many seniors live in significant poverty. This is especially so for women who are less likely due to mothering responsibilities to have sufficient years of employment contributions to the Canadian Pension Plan Finkel, ; Neysmith, This is another area of social service that is underfunded Neysmith, Appropriate housing options must be made available to seniors Chappell, Policy must consider not only the elderly, but the needs of informal and formal employed and volunteer caregivers, ensuring adequate financial support or remuneration, respite options and sustainable working conditions Neysmith, Graham, Swift and Delaney suggest that geography also discriminates, an issue social policy must consider.

This is despite government initiatives since the s to facilitate regional development. Persons in rural areas are less likely to have access to services, and are more likely to deal with poverty as well as health concerns ref?

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They further argue that the urban-biased materials emerging from the United States especially, should be interrogated. Fourteen percent of Canadians live with a disability Chappell, Historically, persons with disabilities were relegated to institutions. Despite fundamental rights being formally acknowledged, social policy is this area is a patchwork of underfunded provincial policies and programs, with increasing downloading of such responsibilities to the municipal level Dunn, Although rights are formally acclaimed, and inclusion is increasingly promoted, practically significant barriers remain, for example, in the areas of education, employment and barrier-free housing Dunn, Financial support is meagre and complicated to access Dunn, Personal support also is uneven and often does not address basic needs Dunn, Transportation is frequently offered locally but is ultimately a fragmented service.

Additionally, public transport is often inaccessible Dunn, Streets and physical access to buildings remains challenging. Even so, women with disabilities and indigenous person with disabilities struggle to find meaningful work and supports. Although universal health care has been available since the s, Canada lacks a specific mental health act, provinces generating their own Nelson, A national plan seems to be needed Nelson, that goes beyond the historical use of the medical model in responding to mental health.

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In the s and s there was a move to deinstitutionalization, but only as of the s were there attempts on the provincial level to shift towards community-based services Nelson, Community-based service delivery does not necessarily offer inclusion, and empowerment, recovery and community participation are needed. Nelson further suggests that strategies to support persons living with moderate mental health issues are required in such a plan.

Prevention and promotion require further attention Nelson, The impact of ethnoracial and gender dimensions must be considered Nelson, Social policies need to be increasingly informed by persons living with disabilities Dunn, This grouping has advocated for human rights, community living and full societal participation in Canadian social policies and has succeeded in offering services within this framework Dunn, This has intersected with persons living with mental disabilities increasingly insisting on having their voice heard and lived experience noted Dunn, Nevertheless, many areas continue to require attention Dunn, One illustration of this need relates to the recognition of persons affected by the thalidomide scandal.

In Canada those who could prove their mothers were prescribed this medication were provided with compensation. It is only in that there have been concessions to persons suffering the consequences of this drug but who could not offer proof. The fentanyl crisis has over recent years highlighted the vulnerability of those dependent on substances.

It has also illuminated the place of pharmaceutical industry and doctors in creating opioid dependency. It has also become evident that substance misuse crosses class. As noted earlier, the first social work school was established in There around 86 social work practitioners in Canada. Social work practice in Canada is typically clinical.