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Social Policy and Practice in Canada

A History

By Alvin Finkel
Subjects History, Canadian History, Social Science, Social Work, Political Science, Social Policy
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Paperback : 9780889204751, 396 pages, April 2006
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554588862, 396 pages, May 2012

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Social Policy and Practice in Canada: A History by Alvin Finkel


Introduction: Studying Social Policy

Non-State Provision (The Pre-Confederation Period)

First Peoples and Social Needs

New France: The Church, the State, and Feudal Obligations

British North America and the Poor Law

Beyond the Poor Law: Canada, 1867–1950

Early Canada: Continuity and Change, 1867–1914

War, Depression, and Social Policy: 1914–39

Paradise Postponed, 1939–50: The Second World War and Its Aftermath

The Welfare State, 1950–80

Social Policy and the Elderly, 1950–80

The Medicare Debate, 1945–80

The Child Care Debate, 1945–80

Housing and State Policy, 1945–80

Anti-Poverty Struggles, 1945–80


The Welfare State since 1980

The New Millennium and Social Policy Directions




Social Policy and Practice in Canada: A History traces the history of social policy in Canada from the period of First Nations’ control to the present day, exploring the various ways in which residents of the area known today as Canada have organized themselves to deal with (or to ignore) the needs of the ill, the poor, the elderly, and the young.

This book is the first synthesis on social policy in Canada to provide a critical perspective on the evolution of social policy in the country. While earlier work has treated each new social program as a major advance, and reacted with shock to neoliberalism’s attack on social programs, Alvin Finkel demonstrates that right-wing and left-wing forces have always battled to shape social policy in Canada. He argues that the notion of a welfare state consensus in the period after 1945 is misleading, and that the social programs developed before the neoliberal counteroffensive were far less radical than they are sometimes depicted.

Social Policy and Practice in Canada: A History begins by exploring the non-state mechanisms employed by First Nations to insure the well-being of their members. It then deals with the role of the Church in New France and of voluntary organizations in British North America in helping the unfortunate. After examining why voluntary organizations gradually gave way to state-controlled programs, the book assesses the evolution of social policy in Canada in a variety of areas, including health care, treatment of the elderly, child care, housing, and poverty.


``This book is a useful synthesis of a great many, mostly secondary sources about the ideas and process behind social policy in Canada. ... Canada is far from having a social policy that creates an integrated society in which all citizens live at a decent standard without regard to class, gender, race, or level of income. Today there is a growing gap between rich and poor and our social system still reflects substantial gender inequities. This book helps explain why. ''

- Laurel Sefton Macdowell, University of Toronto Quarterly, Letters in Canada 2006, Volume 77, Number 1, Winter 2008

``This study provides a good synthesis of a wide array of primary and secondary material covering a host of temporal and spatial locations. It deserves the attention of those interested in the history of social policy and the history of the welfare state -- student and specialist alike. ''

- Kurt Korneski, Labour/Le Travail, Volume 60, Winter 2007

``A must read for anyone interested in social policy. ... Highly recommended. ''

- D.A. Chekki, University of Winnipeg, CHOICE, March 2007