The Emergence of Social Security in Canada
406 pages, 6 x 9
36 b&w figures and tables
Release Date:01 Jan 1997

The Emergence of Social Security in Canada

Third Edition

UBC Press

Since its publication in 1980, The Emergence of Social Security in Canada has become a standard text in social work and related courses in post-secondary institutions across Canada. It is the first and most detailed history of Canadian social security from colonial times to the present. In this third edition, Dennis Guest has revised the previous chapters and has provided two new ones to update developments to 1997.

This book analyzes the major influences shaping the Canadian welfare state. A central trend in Canadian social security over most of the twentieth century has been a shift from a “residual” to an “institutional” concept. The residual approach, which dominated until the Second World War, posited that the causes of poverty and joblessness were to be found within individuals and were best remedied by personal initiative and reliance on the private market. However, the dramatic changes brought about by the Great Depression and the Second World War resulted in the rise of an institutional approach to social security. Poverty and joblessness began to be viewed as the results of systemic failure, and the public began to demand that governments take action to establish front-rank institutions guaranteeing a level of protection against the common risks to livelihood. Thus, the foundations of the Canadian welfare state were established. However, burgeoning government debt in the 1980s revived the residual approach to social policy. Governments at all levels in the 1980s and 1990s have dismantled or diminished several key structures of Canada’s social security system and threaten the remainder.

The Emergence of Social Security in Canada is both an important historical resource and an engrossing tale in its own right, and it will be of great interest to anyone concerned about Canadian social policy.

Should be mandatory reading for those interested in social policy. Canadian Public Administration
Although Canada spends 12 per cent of its Gross National Product on health and social welfare, this book represents our first historical overview of how this came about. For that reason alone it is a very welcome contribution. The author traces the evolution of responses to poverty from pre-Confederation poor relief to the failed attempt to develop a guaranteed annual income in the 1970’s. Although his narrative is comprehensive and coherent, the system he describes is not. James E. Struthers, The Canadian Historical Review
Indispensable as background … a proficient and superb chronicle. Canada Public Policy
Dennis Guest, now retired, was for many years a professor in the School of Social Work at the University of British Columbia.

Figures and Tables



1 The Emergence of Social Security in Canada: Major Themes

2 The Colonial Inheritance

3 Saving for a Rainy Day: Social Security in Late-Nineteenth-Century and Early-Twentieth-Century Canada

4 The First Stage of the Modern Era: Workers’ Compensation in Ontario

5 The Social Impact of the First World War

6 The 1920s: No Priorities for Welfare

7 The Depression Decade: Cracking the Residual Mould

8 The Second World War: Catalyst for Social Security Advances

9 The 1950s: “Our Conservative Decade”

10 The 1960s: Filling the Gaps

11 Stemming a Residual Tide

12 Unfinished Business: The Social Security Review of 1973 to 1976

13 Social Security in the 1980s

14 A Sombre Anniversary

15 Debating the Future of Social Securty





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