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Summary Of: Social Assistance Use in Canada: National and Provincial Trends in Incidence, Entry and Exit

Listed author(s):
  • Finnie, Ross
  • Irvine, Ian
  • Sceviour, Roger

This paper summarizes findings from the research paper entitled Social Assistance Use in Canada: National and Provincial Trends in Incidence, Entry and Exit. For many Canadian families, Social Assistance (SA) usage reflects near-destitution and an exclusion from the social and economic mainstream. For children, it can represent a critical period of disadvantage with potentially lasting effects. While committed to SA, governments worry about cost. Thus, when SA participation rose during the recession of the early 1990s, virtually all provinces instituted changes to reduce SA dependency. Eligibility rules were made tighter, benefit levels cut, and 'snitch' lines introduced. Following these changes, and the economic recovery post-1995, the number of SA-dependent individuals dropped from 3.1 million to under 2 million by 2000, while benefits received fell from $14.3b in 1994 to $10.4b in 2001 (current dollars). This paper maps the cycle of SA dependency, focusing on empirical records of SA entry, exit, and annual participation rates, placing these in the economic and policy context of the 1990s. The paper begins with a description of the database used, sample selection and editing procedures, the unit of analysis, a definition of SA participation, and the measure of entry and exit from SA. It then turns to the economic and policy backdrop of the 1990s, before showing results at the national and provincial levels. We conclude with a summary of main findings.

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Paper provided by Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch in its series Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series with number 2005246e.

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Date of creation: 30 May 2005
Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:2005246e
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  1. Jacob A. Klerman & Steven J. Haider, 2001. "A Stock-Flow Analysis of the Welfare Caseload: Insights from California Economic Conditions," Working Papers 01-02, RAND Corporation.
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