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Do We Know Where We Are Going? The New Social Policy in Canada

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  • Keith G. Banting
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    Abstract

    This commentary evaluates the new social policy paradigm, which shifts the emphasis from income redistribution to investment in human capital. Canadian governments have embraced the first side of this approach, restructuring income-security programs in ways that reduce the level of economic security assured to working-age Canadians. But their approach to investing in human capital is weakened by uncertain public commitments, problems of timing and sequence, and a failure to come to grips with the policy implications of the socio-economic gradient in educational attainment. The commentary concludes that education and training are carrying too much weight in new social discourse, and that a successful strategy of investing in human capital cannot be divorced from issues of poverty and inequality. The key challenge is one that is largely being ignored: to design a redistributive complement to a human-capital strategy, one that makes meaningful the promise of education as an instrument of economic security, and compensates for its significant limitations.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Toronto Press in its journal Canadian Public Policy.

    Volume (Year): 31 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 4 (December)
    Pages: 421-430

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    Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:31:y:2005:i:4:p:421-430

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    1. Irvine, Ian & Finnie, Ross & Sceviour, Roger, 2005. "Social Assistance Use in Canada: National and Provincial Trends in Incidence, Entry and Exit," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2005245e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    2. Finnie, Ross & Lascelles, Eric & Sweetman, Arthur, 2005. "Who Goes? The Direct and Indirect Effects of Family Background on Access to Post-secondary Education," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2005237e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    3. Osberg, Lars & Sharpe, Andrew, 2002. "An Index of Economic Well-Being for Selected OECD Countries," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(3), pages 291-316, September.
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    Cited by:
    1. Heisz, Andrew, 2007. "Inegalite et redistribution du revenu au Canada : 1976 a 2004," Direction des etudes analytiques : documents de recherche 2007298f, Statistics Canada, Direction des etudes analytiques.

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