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Presentation to “The Political Economy of Social Policy in North America,” St Antony’s College, University of Oxford March 1, 2013 Professor Michael J.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation to “The Political Economy of Social Policy in North America,” St Antony’s College, University of Oxford March 1, 2013 Professor Michael J."— Presentation transcript:

1 Presentation to “The Political Economy of Social Policy in North America,” St Antony’s College, University of Oxford March 1, 2013 Professor Michael J. Prince University of Victoria

2 Purposes: Describe basic features of Canada’s political economy and welfare regime Outline recent major changes in social policy Reflect on implications for universalism and social rights of citizenship Questions: In what areas of social policy is universality more or less in effect? Is the Canadian welfare regime moving towards greater universalism? 2

3 Market capitalism – fundamental context of economy North American continentalism – trade dependencies Nationalism(s) – Canadian, Québécois, Indigenous Keynesianism – still used in budgetary policy Trade unionism – modest and fragmented Regionalism – strong politically and economically Federalism – fundamental context of the polity Social democratic politics – present and moderate Conservatism/liberalism – dominant ideologies 3

4 Immigration – 2 million people in last 10 years Multiculturalism – 17 % of population are members of “visible minority” communities Indigenous peoples – about 4% of population, median age 27, just over half live off-reserves Aging population – median age 41.2 Increasing labour force participation of women – 62% Diversifying forms of families and marital relationships Growing population – highest growth rate among G 8 nations between 2001 and 2011, due mainly to immigration 4

5 Private market plays substantial role in numerous areas of social protection Heavy reliance on personal responsibility, family, and voluntary sector provision Selective public safety net (last resort/residual welfare) programs Wage earner/social insurance a major role in determining access to public provisions Tax expenditures widely used in social programming A few universal income entitlements 5

6 Policy areaSelectiveSocial InsuranceUniversal Child careXX (Quebec) Disability incomeXX Disability supportsX EducationX Elderly incomeXXX Family incomeXX Medical careX Other health careX HousingX Labour servicesXX WelfareX Parental benefitsX Sickness benefitsX Workplace injuriesX 6

7 Pre-welfare state (before 1940s) Primary and secondary public education Public libraries Public parks and local community centres Modern welfare state era Old Age Security (since 1952) Family Allowance ( ) Hospital and medical care (nationally since 1972) Child care and early learning services (Quebec: since late 1990s) 7

8 Federal government decisions: Cancellation of Court Challenges Program Cancellation of Early Learning and Child Care Agreements with all 10 provinces Introduction of Universal Child Care Benefit Maintenance of health care transfers to provinces but with no national conditions Provincial government decisions: Restoration of health care funding after austerity period Introduction of universal full-day kindergarten Comprehensive poverty-reduction plans 8

9 Stalled development of public early learning and child care services across the country Much of family care continues to reside with unpaid labour by women Loss of judicial arena for groups to advance legal claims for equality rights Provincialization of poverty policy in Canada Federal retreat along with provincial activism means a decentralization of social citizenship rights and duties which, in turn, are often commodified and medicalized Universality/selectivity debates are never truly over 9

10 Canada’s welfare regime is a blend of policy continuities, policy innovations, and a few major policy disjunctures While universality is a major value in health care and education policy, the contributory principle of social insurance and the selectivity principle predominate in most program areas In social policy, Canadian citizens are increasingly provincial citizens Universalism is a political force in Canadian life; joined with other dominant ideas and practices rooted in civil society, liberal policy legacies, and the market economy Thus universalism it is not the driving force behind most social issues or welfare regime developments 10

11 Michael J. Prince Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy Faculty of Human and Social Development University of Victoria 11


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