Social Services

Social assistance: What North American reforms can teach us

In the past dozen years, the number of people on social assistance has fallen sharply across North America. In Quebec, the number of recipients went from 813,200 in March 1996 to 492,941 in October 2006, or 6.4% of the population, the lowest level since the late 1970s. Despite this, the province has the continent’s highest proportion of people on social assistance apart from Newfoundland and the District of Columbia. This reflects both a traditionally higher level and a lower reduction than elsewhere.

$7-a-day childcare: Are parents getting what they need?

With the stated aim of preventing “two-tier” childcare from emerging, the Quebec government recently blocked subsidized private daycare centres from engaging in extra-billing for supplementary activities. This coercive measure is a logical outcome of the centralization and standardization process that began a decade ago. Although the Quebec childcare model is seen by many as being among the most advanced in Canada or even the world in terms of family policy, the perverse effects of government management are being felt increasingly. Does this policy really suit the parents it was meant to help?

Quebec’s Relative Poverty

How do the living standards of people in Quebec compare with those elsewhere in North America? This issue stirs up a profusion of emotional reactions from diverse standpoints. Differences of opinion stem in part from the fact that the available data fail to provide a clear image and can easily cause confusion. Some vague general indicators suggest that living standards in Quebec may be comparable to those in Ontario. Other more objective data show, however, that Quebec is relatively poor compared to the other Canadian provinces and U.S. states.

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