The Decline of the Canadian Welfare State: Policies and Implications of Retrenchment. For all intents and purposes the term ‘welfare state’ refers to: a capitalist society in which the state has intervened in the form of social policies, programs, standards, and
The Decline of the Canadian Welfare State: Policies and Implications of Retrenchment
For all intents and purposes the term ‘welfare state’ refers
to: a capitalist society in which the state has intervened in
the form of social policies, programs, standards, and
regulations in order to mitigate class conflict and to
provide for, answer, or accommodate certain social needs
for which the capitalist mode of production in itself has
no solution or provision.
The welfare state includes, but is not limited to:
What are the common elements of welfare states?
1.) It is a product of capitalist society
2.) Role of government is to ensure its maintenance and reproduction
3.) Welfare state is determined by the boundaries of the nation-state
Q: When does a state become a welfare state?
A: When class conflict, reduced to the contest between workers and
the representatives of capital, presents a chronic threat to the
stability of the system and has to be institutionalized (placed within
a legal framework)and when the majority of social needs
pertaining to the reproduction of the working classes are addressed
formally (by the state via policies) rather than informally (via
friends and family).
HISTORY of the WELFARE STATE
Only after WWII did all conditions that underlie the modern
State fall into place, and the welfare state came into being.
The modern welfare state is referred to as the KEYNESIAN
WELFARE STATE (kws), so named after John Maynard
His principal assumption was the existence of a national
economy, in which, he argued, the state could intervene to
effect levels of investment and domestic income, and thereby
partially regulate unemployment by these national “demand
Why was the post WWII era ripe for the KWS?
Most aspects of the welfare state were designed to redistribute a
portion of wages and salaries, collected by the state in the form
of tax revenues, premiums and deferred income. It was not
intended to redistribute social wealth.
Many programs in Canada such as unemployment benefits,
pension plans and hospital insurance are financed by the working
Some costs are shared by corporations, but most of the taxes are
from wages and salaries.
There are two forms of redistribution:
1.) The general redistribution of deductions from wages &
salaries to assist the working class to reproduce itself.
i.e. Employment Insurance
2.) Redistribution of revenues upward in the social strata
since the well-to-do make proportionately greater use of
more costly programs.
i.e. Health Care and Education
“The present structure of the welfare state in Canada is a
‘hodge-podge’ of policies, programs, laws and standards strewn
across political jurisdictions, categories of people and types of
The most common methods of grouping the programs are by:
a.) mode of financing and
b.) nature of recipient.
The Decline of the Welfare State
Federal Transfers to Provinces for Health and Education, 1997 - 2004
Figure 16.2 from Social Issues and Contradictions in Canadian Society (pg.450)
Funding for Provinces
The federal government provided Major Transfers to Other
Levels of Government. These payments—almost $30 billion—went to
provinces and territories to help fund health care, post-secondary
education and other important social services. (up from $15.5B ’00-’01)
Minimum Wage on the Rise …
PEI went from $6.30 to $6.80 (+7.9%)
Ontario went from $6.85 to $7.45 (+8.7%)
Alberta went from $5.90 to $7.00 (+18.6%)
* Sheila Fraser, FCA , Auditor General of Canada
Charities – Shoring up the Welfare State?
Charities contribute to the decline of the welfare state by not only replacing it
but by also allowing donations to be tax deductible – a planned paradox.
Should charities be done away with and the government pay for everything with
our tax dollars?
One of the issues at the heart of the 2006 election is gun violence
and related crimes. Is the increase in gun violence an indication of
the welfare state’s decline? What can be done by the welfare
state in order to potentially remedy the situation?
How does Canada’s immigration policy effect the welfare state?
Things to consider might be health care, employment insurance