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Social programs: Reconstruction not restoration

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Battle, Ken; Torjman, Sherri & Mendelson, Michael
Publication Date: 
1 Oct 2000

Available in print for order (see SOURCE) and online for download.


In a brief to the Finance Committee, the Caledon Institute of Social Policy calls for the "reconstruction not restoration" of Canadian social programs. In the emerging post-deficit era, 'social reinvestment' cannot mean simply a return to the social programs of the past. In order to renew and revitalize Canada's social security system, many social programs will continue to require substantial change and, in some cases, fundamental restructuring. The report proposes a series of targeted tax and spending proposals that should rank ahead of accelerating the general income tax reductions for all taxpayers in all income groups announced in the most recent federal Budget. Key proposals, several of which require joint federal-provincial action, include the following. Increases to the Canada Child Tax Benefit should be accelerated to reach a maximum $2,600 payment for 2001, followed by continued improvements that will achieve the ultimate target of a $4,200 maximum Canada Child Tax Benefit by 2010 that boosts benefits for non-poor as well as low-income families. Ottawa should triple its important investment in the recently announced early childhood development initiative with the provincial and territorial governments, devoting a total $7.5 billion over five years rather than the $2.5 billion committed. Governments also should launch a joint fundamental reform of income security policy for adults. The federal and provincial governments should launch a National Employment Development Strategy that includes a statement of national vision as well as investment in a range of initiatives to promote employability: assessment and training, health-related costs, workforce transition, community economic development and workplace best practice. A new National Personal Supports Fund for Canadians with disabilities should be established toward which Ottawa would contribute $5 billion over a five-year period to help lever similar provincial contributions derived from a combination of sources.