Social policy: into the future

Two reports released recently focus on social policy moving into the future. The first,from the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW), has a provincial focus, while the Caledon Institute of Social Policy’s is federal in scope.  Despite their differences, however, there are common themes.

Entitled ACSW Social Policy Framework 2010: Visioning a More Equitable and Just Alberta, this report explicitly recommends a shift from individualism to a more collective approach, to reduce what it describes as growing disparity in Alberta.  Referring to erosion of the social safety net (as did the Federation of Canadian Municipality report cited in an earlier blog posting), the College calls for a new social policy mix, with a focus on rights-based service delivery, expansion of programs, affordable housing, adequate employment and compensation, proportional representation, and a return to a more progressive tax structure.

The new vision also articulates values to underpin the changes: dignity and respect, equality, equity, comprehensiveness, quality services and social dialogue.  And more detailed recommendations include not only short-term strategies to increase existing income supports (including social assistance, working income tax benefit, and child benefits), but also to introduce a guaranteed annual income over the longer term.

The Caledon Institute of Social Policy vision, entitled Canada at 150: The Social Agenda, was delivered to the Canada@150 Conference, by Sherri Torjman. (This conference has also been called the Thinkers’ Conference, hosted by the Liberal Party of Canada.) Drawing on Canada’s history in social policy, it describes three fundamental challenges moving forward:

From a social perspective, we face three main challenges at 150: Canada as productive society, Canada as caring society and Canada as aging society. These formidable challenges are intrinsically linked.

In responding to the productivity challenge, both springboard (training and education) and safety net (remedies for poverty) are cited as essential ingredients.  Building a caring society would require re-investment in child care, a shift in funding from institutions to home care supports, and invest in improving determinants of health, including housing and poverty reduction.  Addressing the challenges of an aging society would require amendments to pension policy and programs and ensuring accessible inclusive services and supports.

The Caledon vision also addresses financial matters, and calls for refocussing current spending (“We spend a fortune on the fortunate”), by shifting from responding to problems to preventing them in the first place.

What the reports have in common is their focus on growing inequality, the costs (listed in the first report, quantified in the second), and an articulated need to narrow the gap between the wealthy and the marginalized in Canada.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: