Welfare Re-form: The Future of Social Policy
http://caledoninst.org – Publications
November 2013. Sherri Torjman and Ken Battle,
This paper is the text of an address delivered by Sherri Torjman at the conference Welfare Re-form: The Future of Social Policy in Canada held on October 24 and 25, 2013, in Regina. The conference was sponsored by the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina.
The speech describes how the Caledon Institute used to believe that the future of social policy involved significant improvements to welfare in order to bolster and ease access to this important program. We continue to support those proposals and have worked with several provinces and with the Government of Nunavut to explore possible enhancements to welfare. We now believe, however, that the future of social policy involves more than improvements to welfare alone. The focus is welfare re-form, which entails the eventual dismantling of this program and its reconstruction into a renewed architecture of income security. In six words: from welfare reform to welfare reformulation.
Three distinct components of income security reform would help alter dramatically the role and importance of that program. They include but are not limited to:
increasing the amount of Canada Child Tax Benefit to a maximum $5,400 per child.
enhancing the value of the Working Income Tax Benefit that is paid to low-income workers and extending coverage to more of the working poor.
creating a federally-delivered Basic Income for persons with severe and prolonged disabilities, and investing the resulting provincial/territorial savings into a wide range of disability supports.
Reconstructing the pieces of welfare is a challenging but practicable approach that would improve the quality of life not only for the poorest of the poor but for the majority of low-, modest- and middle-income Canadians throughout the country.