Redesigning Canada’s Social Policy Regime: From Liberal Maternalism to Liberal Reconciliation?. Rianne Mahon Chancellor’s Professor Carleton University Ottawa, Canada Presented to Canada-Korea Social Policy Research Cooperation University of Toronto January 27-28, 2005.
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Canada-Korea Social Policy Research Cooperation
University of Toronto
January 27-28, 2005
In Canada, as in the European Union, the discussion is less about the details of reforming the “old” social security system (though that is happening too: e.g. health and pensions). Rather the debate centres on the appropriate principles for redesigning the social policy regime.
For some, the difference between the old and new social architectures is that between “passive” support vs. “activation” or, from “welfare” to “workfare”.
Yet there is an important gender dimension to this shift and it is this which constitutes the focus of my presentation.
In earlier decades, social policies in North America and Western Europe supported the male breadwinner, so he could provide for his family
It protected against the risks he faced: unemployment, illness, injury, old age.
there was a “maternalist” side:
women were supported as providers of unpaid care in the household.
Examples: joint taxation; spousal allowance clauses in public and corporate social insurance programs; child/family benefits.
In the absence of a breadwinner, mothers of school-age children were often exempted from the need to seek paid workThe old social policy architecture: focus on the male breadwinner
From Workmen’s Compensation to unemployment insurance, the focus is on the needs of the working man. Mothers are assumed to be at home, supported by their husband’s wages (amplified by tax deductions for dependents) and his social insurance.
From 1944-1992, however, there was a modest universal family allowance (per child), paid to the mother.
The provinces started to provide allowances for lone mothers between the Wars. In 1966, the federal government begins to contribute 50% under the Canada Assistance Plan (CAP). Even then, the provinces retained considerable latitude, allowing important interprovincial regime differences to persist (Boychuk, 1998).
1: OECD countrieswill there be enough economically active people to support the elderly and other dependents?
An important part of the answer
The mobilisation of “untapped resources,” especially women
2: Reducing high poverty rates:
Falling average wages and unstable employment means it takes two salaries to keep a family out of poverty
Rising rates of lone-parent families (with high probability of being poor)
An important part of the answer “activation” of lone parents as well as women generally (recommended by the OECD, etc.)Across the OECD, two policy concerns: demography and poverty
The “ OECD countriesactivation” agenda (carrots and/or sticks) - aimed at getting lone moms off social assistance and into the labour force.
“making work pay” - by removing disincentives to low wage jobs; providing training/job-readiness etc
child care (of some sort)
A reconciliation agenda
maternity/parental leaves, of a reasonable length;
public support for non-parental child care
flexible work times for parents of young children
part time work as a “bridge”
other forms of care leave (with or without pay) to care for a relative who is sick or dying.These two policy concerns have produced
“Modernise” gender difference:
Examples: France, Austria
Gender sameness, without gender or class equality.
Gender sameness, with equal opportunity over the life-cycle
equitable sharing of domestic child care between parents; children have the right to early childhood education and care.
Paid maternity (15 weeks) and parental leave (35 weeks) - but replacement rate 55%, low ceiling; 2 weeks waiting if shared and eligibility restrictions
Family supplement for NCBS recipients - but at price of family-based income testing
Compassionate Care Benefits (6 weeks), for support gravely ill family member. Same rules as parental leave.
CAP replaced by block funding (CHST)
Growth of informal care for workfare recipients in a number of provinces
$2.2 billion for Early Childhood Development - but no requirement spend on childcare
$900 million Multilateral Framework Agreement - ECLC -Leave policies and child care