|FROM WELFARE TO WORK:|
The majority of adults enrolled in literacy programs receive some sort of government income assistance. Over the last few years sweeping changes, often referred to as 'Welfare Reforms', have been taking place within social assistance (welfare) systems across Canada. Many people, including welfare recipients themselves, are unaware of exactly what the changes are, how they came about, an what they mean. This lack of awareness is not surprising. Information about the new legislation is difficult to find and even more difficult to understand.
It is crucial that welfare recipients, literacy workers, and other service providers become aware of the new welfare policies and how the legislated changes may affect programming, etc. First though, it is necessary to look at how the shifts came about.
On April 1,1996 the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) came into effect. It replaced the federal Canada Assistance Plan, or CAP, as it was known. CAP funded social assistance with the provinces on a cost-shared basis, as well as health and post-secondary education. With the introduction of the CHST block funding, significant changes to the welfare system have taken place.10
Provincial governments in turn implemented a variety of policies intended to respond to the CHST. On May 1st, 1996 the Manitoba government announced cuts that would reduce payments to employable single person and couples without children by over 10%. Single parent households with children over six years of age saw an overall reduction of just over 2%. Rates all other persons remained the same.11
10 These changes are outlined in NAPOs report: "Monitoring The Impacts On Social Assistance Recipients Of Welfare Cuts And Changes: An Overview" (Oct., 1996):
11 Manitoba Legislative Assembly, Media Backgrounder: Employment and Income Assistance, p. 2.
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