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Women and the Canadian Welfare State

Women and the Canadian Welfare State: Challenges and Change

Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Women and the Canadian Welfare State
    Book Description:

    Explains not only how women are affected by changes in policy and programming, but how they can take an active role in shaping these changes.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8354-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Contributors
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Part I: Welfare State in Transition

    • 1 The Shifting Terrain of Womenʹs Welfare: Theory, Discourse, and Activism
      (pp. 3-27)

      The idea for this book began several years ago at a time when the steadily consistent, but relatively quiet erosion of the Canadian welfare state during the Mulroney government, was well advanced. By the time this book is in the hands of readers, this ʹsocial policy by stealthʹ (Gray, 1990) approach has been replaced by explicitly articulated, rapidly paced, and radical changes. Against a background of economic restructuring, globalization, and the overriding imperative of deficit reduction, the Canadian ʹwelfare stateʹ is in retreat. This retreat continues a direction that has been apparent since the mid-1970s and one that advanced significantly...

    • 2 From the Welfare State to Vampire Capitalism
      (pp. 28-68)

      Social policy as a progressive force has been more or less dead in Canada for the past ten years.¹ The optimism of feminists in the 1970s – that government policy could be changed to reflect womenʹs needs – has been replaced by the desperate realization that even the few redistributive gains women worked so hard to achieve are being reversed.² Womenʹs political activism focused on the state continues, but it is activism to hold on to what remains of the welfare state.³

      The relationship between women and the welfare state has been an ambiguous one, and feminists are now in...

  7. Part II: Challenging the Bases of Claims

    • 3 Creation Stories: Social Rights and Canadaʹs Constitution
      (pp. 71-90)

      In this essay, I set out to examine the constitutional entrenchment of social rights as a strategy to advance social justice and, in particular, to redress the material and social inequalities which characterize womenʹs lives in Canada. The issue of entrenched social rights came to the forefront of public debate in Canada during the negotiation in 1992 of the Charlottetown Accord proposals to amend the Constitution. Part III.1 of the Accord contained recognition of a number of governmental commitments to social policy objectives. The Accord proposals fell far short of the inclusion of a charter of social rights called for...

    • 4 Divided Citizenship? Gender, Income Security, and the Welfare State
      (pp. 91-116)

      Social assistance and unemployment insurance are among the most prominent and visible income support programs of the modern Canadian welfare state. Income security has been termed a ʹparadigmatic social rightʹ (Shaver, 1993: 103), although, with the exception of a few universal benefits, the right to income benefits has never been unconditional. Welfare states define the particular needs and circumstances that create legitimate claims on the state for income support, and, in this process, the terms and conditions that govern their citizensʹ access to benefits are articulated, and different distributive principles in the claiming process are invoked (Peattie and Rein, 1983)....

    • 5 Family Law and Social Assistance Programs: Rethinking Equality
      (pp. 117-141)

      Payneʹs comment usefully highlights increasing recognition in Canada that marriage breakdown is no longer simply a ʹprivateʹ dispute. Instead, the end of a marriage shatters the economic interdependence of family members in an ongoing family unit, leaving some of them less able to assume economic independence post-divorce than others. In general, women and children experience economic disadvantage disproportionately to men at marriage breakdown, thereby contributing to the feminization of poverty. In this way, most of the ʹcostsʹ of Canadaʹs policy of accessible divorce are unfairly borne by individual women and children in post-divorce families and relatively less by their husbands...

    • 6 Migration Policy, Female Dependency, and Family Membership: Canada and Germany
      (pp. 142-169)

      In their examination of female dependency and the patrilocal family as the source of female subordination, contemporary feminists see state policies as perpetuating the dependency of women on men. Considerable attention is paid to welfare programs which determine eligibility to benefits on the basis of family structure and which assume that women and children have access to male wages. However,immigration policies also are part of the larger domain of state policies which assume and sustain female dependency. Immigration and migrant policies affect women through dependency relations and family relations, which are administratively embedded in immigration policies governing entry and...

    • 7 The Shift to the Market: Gender and Housing Disadvantage
      (pp. 170-194)

      Housing is generally left out of current debates on the welfare state. It is also notably absent in discussions of womenʹs changing relation to the state and from the literature on womenʹs political activism.¹ Yet access to affordable housing is an integral part of social welfare, affecting womenʹs life chances, their security, and their access to services. The high cost of housing and womenʹs relative poverty means that women as a group have considerably more circumscribed housing options than men. Access to affordable housing of a minimum standard is viewed by many as a social right that should be guaranteed...

  8. Part III: Womenʹs Work and the State

    • 8 Double, Double, Toil and Trouble ... Womenʹs Experience of Work and Family in Canada, 1980–1995
      (pp. 197-221)

      When it held power (1990–1995), the New Democratic Party (NDP) government in Ontario initiated discussions about ways to significantly reduce the 900,000 workers in the public sector. Arguing that the provincial debt and deficit were reaching crisis proportions, they proposed to lay off workers, roll back wages, reduce services to the public, and increase taxes while continuing to privatize a range of services from medical laboratories to land registry offices and roads. While such neoliberal monetarist attacks on the welfare state have been the major political strategy for the conservative national governments in Britain, the United States and Canada...

    • 9 Towards a Woman-Friendly Long-Term Care Policy
      (pp. 222-245)

      This chapter considers long-term care policies and programs in terms of their effects on women. Services can range from twenty-four-hour institutionally based care to social support offered to isolated individuals who live in the community. Long-term care programs cover people with disabilities and elderly persons in need of assistance because of their physical and/or cognitive impairments. Although long-term care policy is usually presented in gender-neutral terms, the overwhelming majority of service users and providers are women. Thus, long-term care policy is a particularly rich arena for examining the gendered nature of state, family, and market relationships. The chapter starts with...

    • 10 The State and Pay Equity: Juggling Similarity and Difference, Meaning, and Structures
      (pp. 246-266)

      In his Preface to Leonard MarshʹsReport on Social Security for Canada 1943, Michael Bliss (1975: ix) describes the development of the welfare state as a ʹtransition from a society in which provision for destitution was largely an individual responsibility to one in which a variety of programs guarantees a level of social and economic security for all.ʹ Bliss goes on to say that ʹvery little has been written about the nature of this transition, the concepts underlying it, the social, economic and political environment in which it took place, or the men involved.ʹ He makes no mention of the...

  9. Part IV: Women Challenging the Welfare State

    • 11 Challenging Diversity: Black Women and Social Welfare
      (pp. 269-290)

      Within the Canadian welfare state, racial minority women are challenging their mainstream neo-colonization. Increasingly, they are establishing ethno-cultural services defined and controlled by their own communities. This rejection of traditional forms of oppression has a long history. This chapter, then, situates the community activism of contemporary Black women² within the history of Black womenʹs equality struggles. The Black womenʹs struggles that are discussed in this chapter pertain to more than organizing around welfare service delivery as it is conventionally understood. Social welfare has always been much more broadly defined by Blacks, and it includes action to break down the barriers...

    • 12 Women, Unions, and the State: Challenges Ahead
      (pp. 291-309)

      The structure of womenʹs work and the nature of unionism are both at the brink of change. Within a climate of economic uncertainty and high unemployment, womenʹs jobs are affected by economic and organizational restructuring, changes in technology, growth in part-time and contingent workforces, the increased use of home-based work, and an inequitable distribution of power and rewards. Individually and collectively, women are challenged by these issues at their workplaces while simultaneously they search for manageable ways of meeting their familial responsibilities. Many women are calling upon the labour movement to reformulate policies and practices to meet their needs within...

    • 13 Institutionalizing Feminist Politics: Learning from the Struggles for Equal Pay in Ontario
      (pp. 310-329)

      The introduction of Ontarioʹs Pay Equity Act in 1987 was heralded as an impressive precedent in the development of pay equity legislation by feminist advocates. This legislation was regarded as a victory for the working women in Ontario and for the feminists in the Equal Pay Coalition who had been struggling for a policy to promote equal pay for work of equal value since 1976. Unlike most of the legislation that had been introduced up to that time, the Ontario legislation covered women in workplaces in the broader public sector and those with ten or more employees in the private...