In 1986, Ken Battle hired Sherri Torjman at the National Council of Welfare to carry out a study of welfare in Canada. Its purpose was to explain this hidden, complex program and to figure out welfare rates across the country. Some government officials were furious when they found out that we were about to crack open the workings of this opaque, but crucially important, program. Despite the opposition, we were able to develop a methodology for calculating welfare incomes that is still used today.
The initial study was called Welfare in Canada: The Tangled Safety Net. It spawned a series of reports entitled Welfare Incomes that have been published on a regular basis since 1989. These reports are the only way to track the amounts that provinces and territories pay welfare recipients, the poorest of the poor in Canada. They are often seen as the ‘undeserving' poor and receive incomes that fall well below poverty standards.
In 2012, the federal government announced - with no warning - that it was dismantling the National Council of Welfare and cutting all its work, including Welfare Incomes. After much deliberation, we decided at Caledon that we needed to keep alive this vital source of information. We had developed the original methodology and knew how very difficult it would be - and how long it would take - to reconstruct credible numbers.
But Welfare Incomes is only one example of a larger problem. Information is under attack by the current federal government. More to come on this vital issue and broader solution, the Canada Social Report, on which we are currently working.
In the meantime, we are seeking help to keep alive Welfare Incomes, which provides the objective evidence to make the case for decent incomes and for welfare reform. Please watch our video and help us by contributing $20 (or more if possible) to our Giveffect campaign posted in the attached link. And please forward this notice to friends and networks, send a Tweet or post this link to your Facebook.
Together we can preserve this powerful weapon in the war on poverty. Thank you.