The Decline of the Canadian Welfare State Policies and Implications of Retrenchment Presented By: Nav Chohan
Outline of Presentation: • Introduction • Summary of Reading • My Analysis • Interactive Game • Class Discussion • Concluding Remarks • Questions
Introduction: What does “Welfare State” mean? • “A capitalist society in which the state has intervened in form of social policies, programs, standards, and regulations, in order to mitigate class conflict and accommodate certain social needs” • Welfarism is an institutionalized response to the negative effects of capitalism and the needs of the new working class
Summary of Reading: Main Points What is the author’s main argument? • The decline of the welfare state has led to the erosion of social rights and the denial of “rightful” and “universal” entitlements that come with being a “citizen” • The new ideas brought forth by neo-liberalism seek to limit the amount of protection offered to the needy by both the public and private spheres thus resulting in increased poverty, and lowering national standards.
Conditions that Gave Rise to the Welfare State: • Creation of a capitalist labour market and working class, and the freeing of this class from the means of production • A need to defend the working class against the exploitative nature of the capitalist class • Rise of industrial capitalism • Protecting the working class against unemployment and suffering from the business cycle’s economic ups and downs
The Keynesian Welfare State: Goals of the KWS • The goal of the KWS was to prevent a repeat of the 1930s depression and social unrest experienced in the industrialized world • To assist war-torn economies of Europe in developing new infrastructures • To contain socialism • To stabilize the economy and maintain full employment levels
The Keynesian Welfare State:Provisions • For the state to provide social reforms and funding for programs • Rationale: For the state to assume a watch-dog role in regulating and overseeing class relations btw capitalists and the working class • Redistribution of the “social wage” • Social citizenship & decommodification
How the Welfare State Worked in Canada • The golden of the KWS in Canada was from the 1940 to about Mid 1970s • “A patchwork” of programs and policies extending across the 3 political jurisdictions • Maintaining high national standards and equality across the provinces • Types of programs: universal, social insurance programs, and social assistance programs. • The state intervened by: introducing regulations, codes, and acts that mitigate the class conflict btw unions/workers vs. employers • Institutionalizing the costs of workers
Decline of the Welfare State • Stagnation – high economic growth coupled with rising inflation • Higher wages were needed to support the KWS, and businesses could not keep up • Increase in trade union suits • Withdrawal of federal funding in social programs (decline in federal transfers to provinces) • An attempt to get workers back into the labour force by diminishing rights of unions (inability to strike) • Toughening the qualifying criteria for social programs • Change in political ideologies of the state • Erosion of social rights, national identity, and democracy
Weaknesses of the Reading • Only one view taken into consideration • Does not address weaknesses of the KWS • Lack of compelling evidence • Does not evaluate practicality of charities • No actual solutions/recommendations proposed
The Hypocrisy of Neo-Liberalism • The chapter fails to address and discuss the evident hypocrisy of neo-liberalism • Idea of double standards • Classic Example: Human rights • Study done by the Poverty and Human Rights Centre of British Columbia • Supreme Court of Canada Case – Gosselin v. Quebec (Attorney General)
The Hypocrisy of Neo-liberalism Continued... • Decline of Democracy – pg. 457 of text • Inadequate form of regulation and accountability of the private sphere • Leads to diminishing use of the rule of law • Charter not applicable to private domain again leads to diminishing use of the rule of law
Interactive Game: Scenario The year is 1975 and the Keynesian Welfare State in Canada is on the verge of collapse. The economy is in a state of high inflation, unemployment levels are high, and businesses are criticizing the KWS heavily. To proceed with this dilemma democratically, our government has decided to hold a national referendum on whether we should work to maintain the KWS or move forward with a new political agenda from the perspective of neo-liberalism.
Instructions: Your task: • Organize yourselves into small groups of 3-4 individuals. • You will be assigned 1 of 6 potential characters • Based on your assigned character, construct a detailed response as to which way you will vote in the poll, backing your argument up with the appropriate reasons. • Your choices in the poll are to either stick with the KWS and publicly funded social programs, OR challenge it by supporting privatization, and diminishing the role of the state in social services/programs through neo-liberal policies. • It would also be wise to explain what difficulties you may encounter and your reasoning for opposing the choice you do not pick.
Discussion Questions • The sovereignty of the nation-state is diminishing with neo-liberal policies that emphasize the growth and predominance of the private sector over the public. Do you agree that national sovereignty, both domestically and internationally, is diminishing? Why or why not? • While the public domain of society can be regulated via the Canadian charter, it is much harder for the state to regulate the actions of the private arena. Do you think our charter and laws, and the role of our judiciary should be extended to apply to the private domain, considering its growing role of the private sector in managing what was once under the public domain? Why or why not?
Conclusions: • Summary of chapter reading – decline of the welfare state • Summary of analysis • The Hypocrisy of Neo-Liberalism – idea of double standardization • Interactive Game-