"Society's Restraint to Social Reform" in Canada

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 1996

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Of the many chatted words in the social reform vocabulary of Canadians today,

the term workfare seems to stimulate much debate and emotion. Along with the

notions of self-sufficiency, employability enhancement, and work

disincentives, it is the concept of workfare that causes the most tension

between it's government and business supporters and it's anti-poverty and

social justice critics. In actuality, workfare is a contraction of the

concept of 'working for welfare' which basically refers to the requirement

that recipients perform unpaid work as a condition of receiving social


Recent debates on the subject of welfare are far from unique. They are all

simply contemporary attempts to decide if we live in a just society or not.

This debate has been a major concern throughout history. Similarly, the

provision of financial assistance to the able-bodied working-age poor has

always been controversial.

On one side are those who articulate the feelings and views of the poor,

namely, the Permissive Position, who see them as victims of our society and

deserving of community support.

The problems of the poor range from personal

(abandonment or death of the family income earner) to the social (racial

prejudice in the job market) and economic (collapse in the market demand for

their often limited skills due to an economic recession or shift in

technology). The Permissive View reveals that all participants in society are

deserving of the unconditional legal right to social security without any

relation to the individual's behaviour. It is believed that any society which

can afford to supply the basic needs of life to every individual of that

society but does not, can be accused of imposing life-long deprivation or

death to those needy individuals. The reason for the needy individual being

in that situation, whether they are willing to work, or their...