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Canadian Social Policy

Issues and Perspectives

5th Edition

Anne Westhues and Brian Wharf, editors

Paper 456 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-359-1

Release Date: May 2012

Online discount: 25%

$52.99  $39.74


eBook availability

Social policy shapes the daily lives of every Canadian citizen and should reflect the beliefs of a majority of Canadians on just approaches to the promotion of health, safety, and well-being. Too often, those on the front lines—social workers, nurses, and teachers—observe that policies do not work well for the most vulnerable groups in society. In the first part of this new edition of Canadian Social Policy, Westhues and Wharf argue that service deliverers have discretion in how policies are implemented, and the exercise of this discretion is how citizens experience policy—whether or not it is fair and reasonable. They show the reader how social policy is made and they encourage active citizenship to produce policies that are more socially just. New material includes an examination of the reproduction of systemic racism through the implementation of human rights policy and a comparative analysis of the policy-making process in Quebec and English Canada.

The second part of the book discusses policy issues currently under debate in Canada. Included are new chapters that explore parental leave policies and housing as a determinant of health. All chapters contain newly updated statistical data and research and policy analysis.

A reworked section on the process of policy-making and the addition of questions for critical reflection enhance the suitability of the book as a core resource in social policy courses. The final chapter explores how front-line workers in the human services can advocate for change in organizational policies that will benefit the people supported.

Anne Westhues is a professor of social work at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her teaching and research are in the areas of social policy, planning, and evaluation.

Brian Wharf was a professor emeritus in the Faculty of Human and Social Development at the University of Victoria until his death in 2011.


“New editions of Anne Westhue’s edited text on current Canadian social policies are always welcome to students of social policy in Canada. Edition five benefits from the co-editing of Brian Wharf, for years Canada’s foremost scholar on community social development. Sadly Professor Wharf passed away in August, 2011, as work on the book neared completion. Some of the topics explored in this book are mental health, child poverty, child welfare, disabilities, racism, and Aboriginal welfare. Every chapter is characterized by a focus on social determinants of health, and by a critical analysis of unequal power relations in every aspect of social policy, from the Canadian Human Rights Commission to risk assessment policies in child welfare.”

— Alvin Finkel, Athabasca University, Histoire sociale/Social History