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Canada's new social risks: Directions for a new social architecture

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Jenson, Jane
Publication Date: 
10 Sep 2004

Excerpts from the report: This research report provides a synthesis of the year-long analysis undertaken by Canadian and international experts for a research program organized by the Family Network of CPRN. Its starting point is that any social protection system for risk sharing is significantly greater than a set of separate government programs. It is the expression of overarching values and a vision that define the desired social objectives, the economic functions of social policy and the appropriate role of the state. To use an architectural metaphor, the edifice of social protection is based on an overall blueprint that provides its coherence. This synthesis report asks the following five questions: 1. How can we think about the mix of sources of well-being and means for risk sharing? 2. What are the major social risks today? 3. Why should we pay particular attention to these new risks? 4. How appropriate are the institutional tools for facing up to these new social risks and achieving better pooling of the costs of social risk? 5. What kind of social architecture would be in line with the values and hopes for well-being that Canadians hold? Each section of the research report addresses one of these five questions. Canada has been transformed over the past 50 years. These changes have created new social risks for its citizens. The time has now come to renew Canada's social architecture. Renewal means daring to think new thoughts about how basic social policies are designed and delivered, and about who is responsible for what within states, markets, communities and families. Renewal does not mean discarding all the ways of the past. It does mean thinking carefully about what works in the current context and what is no longer functional. The best future will be a blend of the old that still represents our goals and of the new needed to meet new challenges.