Canadian Politics

A05(a) - The State of Social Policy in Canada: Part 3

Date: Jun 12 | Time: 03:30pm to 05:00pm | Location:

Chair/Président/Présidente : Alison Smith (University of Toronto)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Rianne Mahon (Carleton University)

Social policy is a central aspect of Canadian economic, social, and political life. This is especially the case in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, which served to highlight the importance of social programs for Canada and the rest of the world. This panel, which is the third of three panels regarding the state of social policy in Canada, will bring together contributors from the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Social Policy in Canada. Together with the other panels in the series, it will provide a comprehensive map of the major components of social policy while identifying the central issues relevant to social protection in Canada.

Gender and social policy in Canada: Ann Porter (York)
Abstract: This chapter develops the concept of gendered social policy regimes to examine how views, goals, actors and policy with respect to gender has shifted over time. Key aspects of a gendered social policy regime include gender norms, the role of the household/family in social provisioning, the legal framework including discriminatory practices, entitlements and equality provisions, the interaction of race, Indigeneity and citizenship status with gender, and the involvement of key actors such as the women’s movement. Four gendered social policy regimes are discussed: 1) Maternal feminists, mothers’ allowances and the early twentieth century welfare state; 2) Post-World War II welfare state, the male breadwinner model, the second wave of the women’s movement and demands for equal rights; 3) Neoliberalism, the erosion and intensification of gender and the fragmentation of social policy actors; 4) the pandemic and onwards: implications and possibilities for gender and social policy.

Canada as an international social policy actor: Laura Macdonald (Carleton)
Abstract: Traditional social policy literature tends to analyse social policy and welfare state regimes as bounded by nation state borders and tends to conform to conventional methodological nationalism. Nevertheless, in practice, international organizations and transnational epistemic communities contribute actively to the formulation of ideas and practices regarding social policies. This chapter will examine some of the ways in which Canada participates in the development of these ideas and practices at the international scale, as well as how those international and transnational influences shape domestic policies in Canada. This review will examine the role Canada has played in the development of international social policy norms, such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Bank and the International Labour Organization, and will also discuss Canada’s role in developing and promoting the idea of Feminist Foreign Policy and its implications for global social policy.

Probing the interface between migration and social policy in Canada: Christina Gabriel (Carleton)
Abstract: Over the last 20 years, successive governments have worked to restructure and manage Canada’s migration regime. The starting point of this paper is to examine the interaction between an increasingly decentralized Canadian migration regime and access to welfare state programs. Migration policy has been mobilized to address demographic challenges, meet the demands of the labour market, and speak to concerns about welfare chauvinism. It is against this canvas that the familiar distinctions between temporary/permanent, non-citizen/citizen that have been used to govern access to social protection and membership in a national community are increasingly blurring. The massive expansion of the temporary worker program, emergence of two step immigration, and the restructuring of the family class are all implicated within this blurring. Additionally, provinces and private actors are playing larger roles. Drawing on a range of primary materials including government reports, official statements, speeches and IRCC documents as well as resources produced by civil society groups, this paper will map these changes and the increasingly diffuse nature of immigration policy making. In doing so, the paper will examine the impact of the changes on access to social benefits and services. These developments, it is argued, pose broader issues about the nature of citizenship, membership and social solidarity in Canada.

Social Policy Retrenchment and Restructuring: Peter Graefe (McMaster)
Abstract: This paper considers the retrenchment and restructuring of the Canadian social policy since the early 1980s. Accounts of these processes in Canada largely mirror those in the comparative literature, especially those focussed on liberal welfare states, albeit with greater emphasis on intergovernmental dynamics. An initial emphasis on the stealthy retrenchment of the core programs and funding mechanisms associated with the post-war welfare state was transformed into an analysis of restructuring by assessing the building out of new neoliberal social policies in the late 1990s. By the 2000s, these approaches were joined by analyses standing outside the neoliberal teleology, and thus able to see the influence of non-neoliberal ideas in shaping inclusive liberal social investments in new social policy fields. After the 2008 financial crisis, the centre of gravity of analysis returned to understanding how social policy restructuring related to sustaining the neoliberal model, through austerity, new modalities of privatization and financialization. This nevertheless stands in some tension with recent extensions of social policies in domains such as child care, mental health and dental care. In general, attempts at periodizing social policy change seem to have become less central in Canadian social policy analyses, as the social democratic imaginary has given way to newer analytic traditions.