With the author's permission
This article appeared in the 1988-89 edition of "How Ottawa Spends" (Carleton University)
The Canada Assistance Plan: A Twenty Year Assessment, l966-l986.
Allan Moscovitch
Carleton University
Ottawa, Ontario
January l988


Much of the recent public policy debate on social policy has focussed on the recipients of welfare. On the one hand, conservative critics decry the large numbers of persons receiving welfare, the growing cost of social assistance, and the amount of welfare fraud. They argue that at best welfare fails to provide incentives to work and at worst it encourages laziness1. More left-leaning critics point to the growing numbers of homeless people and the increasing importance of food banks and soup kitchens as evidence of the failure of social assistance and welfare services to provide the safety net so often decried by conservatives2. Whatever the merits of these arguments, any reform of provincial welfare - social assistance and/or welfare services- will likely be translated into demands for a change in federal funding. Under the Canada Assistance Plan [CAP], the federal government shares 50% of the cost of eligible welfare spending with the provinces.

The Canada Assistance Plan came into being some twenty years ago during the period of economic prosperity, Liberal-led minority government, and high social reform from l963 to l968. There have been several major attempts at further reform but only one change of significance since its inception. My purpose here is to review the origins and development of the Plan, its structure, administration, and philosophy, the performance of the Plan, and lastly to assess its strengths and limitations.


The Canada Assistance Plan was passed into law on July l5,l966 and put into operation for the l967-68 fiscal year. It was one of a series of social reform measures undertaken by the minority federal Liberal government under Prime Minister Lester Pearson. Federal involvement in the provision of welfare began with the first conditional grants for relief after World War I. Conditional grants to the provinces were re-established in the l930s to deal with the increased demands for relief due to the Great Depression. In l935, Conservative Prime Minister R.B.Bennett introduced his New Deal programme which included a social insurance scheme3. Several provinces challenged the power of the federal government to undertake such social welfare measures. When the case was referred finally to the British Privy Council for decision it was held in l938 that Bennett's proposed Employment and Social Insurance Act was beyond the powers of the federal government to enact4.

The conflict over the power to tax and to enact social legislation which was a part of rivalry between the federal government and the provincial governments was the focus of two major studies commisioned by MacKenzie King after the election of the Liberal Party in l935. Both the National Employment Commission [l938] and the Royal Commision on Dominion-Provincial Relations [l939] held that the federal government should have responsibility for the relief of unemployed but employable persons5.

The experience of the past decade is conclusive evidence that unemployment relief should be a Dominion function. By unemployment relief we mean relief or aid for unemployed employables as distinct from unemployables. Provincial responsibility for other welfare services should continue, and the provinces should be enabled financially to perform these services adequately6. The Report of the Royal Commission did recommend federal power to enact unemployment insurance but a constitutional amendment was required in l940 before the legislation could proceed. The Dominion-Provincial Conference of l941 could not agree on a division of taxing powers, but eventually agreement was reached on a temporary ceding of powers to the federal government for the duration of the War. At the l945 Dominion-Provincial Conference the federal government presented the Green Book proposals which offered the provinces a variety of social programmes in return for which the provinces would cede income and corporation taxes to the federal government8. Among the list of social programmes was a scheme worked out by the Department of Labour to provide a means-tested federally run unemployment assistance [welfare] programme at 85% of unemployment insurance rates9.

After the withdrawal of conditional grants for relief in l94l, and with the failure of the Green Book proposals the federal government and the provinces largely left the administration of relief to the municipalities. As Harry Cassidy noted in a report in l947, with the exception of British Columbia and some of Ontario, "The provisions for general assistance are limited, restrictive,mean, and antiquated...[t]hey are literally disgraceful and unworthy of a nation of Canada's status."10 The return of high unemployment levels in l953-54, led the federal government to reconsider a scheme to finance unemployment assistance administered by the provinces and municipalities. The Canadian Welfare Council's campaign for increased public funding for welfare had the effect of forcing the federal government to become directly involved in negociations with the provinces. The end result was the l956 Unemployment Assistance Act11.

The Unemployment Assistance Act was the first piece of permanent federal legislation to provide funding for social assistance. The purpose of the act was to allow the provinces to provide "assistance to persons who are in need."12 It provided for cost-sharing on a sliding scale up to a maximum of 50% of the cost of assistance in each participating province. However, the Act made additional funding available for the relief of the unemployed employable person only, which did not include persons receiving mothers' allowances, in homes for special care or in institutions. In the l950s the provinces and the federal government did agree on the institution of several additional cost-sharing categorical programmes for the provision of assistance to persons deemed unemployable such as the blind [1952], the disabled [1955], and the aged by replacing the previously cost-shared Old Age Pension with a federal non-means tested pension and a federal means tested programme for persons 65 to 69 [l951-52]13. The Conservative government added the Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Act in l961.

The Unemployment Assistance Act led several provinces to modernize the social assistance system. For example, both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick finally eliminated the Poor Law from application in their provinces in legislation designed to allow for opting-in14. However as James Struthers notes in his analysis of the genesis of the Act, the categorical basis of the Act when combined with the pressure on the provinces, the municipalities and the charities due to the considerable increase in unemployment in l959 to l962, led directly to the Canada Assistance Plan. As the the numbers of requests for assistance rose provinces were defining applicants as employable in order to take advantage of cost-sharing15.

As early as l958 the Canadian Welfare Council had issued a report on Social Security for Canada calling for the establishment of a new Public Assistance Act which would provide increased funding for welfare. In l962 the National Council of Welfare made up of provincial deputy ministers of welfare, and representatives of welfare agencies and schools of social work urged expansion of of cost-sharing to include othe programmes.The l963 Quebec Boucher Commission recommended the calculation of assistance based on need and the withdrawl of Quebec from cost-sharing and compensation through tax points16.

These pressures coincided with a marked shift inside the Liberal Party during their years out of power in the l957 to l962 period. During this time a series of social reform proposals were highlighted in the presentation by Tom Kent to a l960 conference of Liberals held in Kingston. These proposals reiterated in his l962 book Social Policy for Canada became an important constituent part of the reform agenda of the Liberal government of Lester Pearson's minority government from l963 to l96817. As Struthers notes however the Canada Assistance Plan "emerged as much through the unintended consequences of previous legislation, as through a changed political climate or the benevolent influence of a bureaucratic social policy elite."18

Since its passage in l966, social assistance and welfare services in general and CAP in particular have been the subject of a considerable number of reports, and reform proposals. A list of the major federal reports over the past twenty year period would include Income Security and Social Services, l969; Income Security for Canadians, l970; the Working Paper on Social Security in Canada, l973; the Report of the Parliamentary Task Force on Fiscal Federalism, Fiscal Federalism in Canada, l981; and, the Task Force on Program Review, Study Team Report on the Canada Assistance Plan, l98519.

What stands out in a review of these documents and of Canadian government policy is that many of the issues regarding social assistance which any capitalist welfare society must resolve were only partially resolved by the Canada Assistance Plan. These issues were the subject of debate before passage of the Plan and have remained the focus of considerable attention over its twenty year history. Since these reform proposals resulted in few changes to the Act, the Plan remains largely as it was when it was passed in l966.

These issues include the level of social assistance in relation to poverty [adequacy] and in relation to the income to be derived from work at minimum wages [less eligibility], the amounts of income and assets that applicants for assistance should be limited to, the standardization of assistance levels across the country, the testing procedure for determining eligibility for assistance, the separation of the payment of assistance from counselling and other social services, access to social services by the wider population, the right to assistance and to appeal from discretion, the elimination of distinctions between employable and unemployable in the determination of assistance, and the elimination of the stigma attached welfare and the distinction between the deserving and the undeserving associated with welfare.

What dominated considerations of these issues were the questions of federal provincial or joint jurisdiction, and the size and scope of the welfare state particularly in times of recession. Despite the political and social pressures for reform the Social Security Review, the largest and most extensive of the reviews of CAP, floundered first due to the inability of the federal and provincial governments to agree, and then due to economic decline and the accompanying ideology of restraint20.

The Canada Assistance Plan Act

Legislative authority for the Canada Assistance Plan is contained in the Canada Assistance Plan Act ,l966-67, a 16 page document which outlines the principles of cost-sharing of "programs for the provision of assistance and welfare services to and in respect of persons in need."21 The Preamble to the Act explains that the purpose of the legislation is to encourage "the further development and extension of assistance and welfare services programs throughout Canada by sharing more fully with the provinces in the cost," based on a concern for "the provision of adequate assistance to and in respect of persons in need," and for "the prevention and removal of the causes of poverty and dependence on public assistance.22"

These two paragraphs contain reference to what was considered new and innovative about the Canada Assistance Plan at the time of its inception. First, the Act contained a restatement of the principle that assistance be available on the basis of need rather than means. In other words, social assistance was to be made available on the basis of a test which would look not only at the income of the person or persons but at the relation between resources and budgetary requirements in order to arrive at an assessment of need. This principle had previously been established in law in the Unemployment Assistance Act of l956, as was noted previously.

Second, the use of the term "need" was meant to signify a change from the older categorical programmes in which assistance was based on the particular characteristics of the person applying. Programmes for the cost-sharing of assistance to disabled, blind and employable but unemployed applicants, were to be phased out by the advent of the Canada Assistance Plan. This change was also meant to eliminate the shifting of cases from the unemployable category to the employable category which had developed after the institution of federal cost-sharing of the cost of assistance to unemployed but employable persons under the Unemployment Assistance Act. In addition, provincial mothers allowance programmes were also to be phased out as single mothers would be eligible for assistance on the basis of need.

Third, the provision of assistance and services on the basis of need was also intended to mean that social assistance applicants could not be required to accept employment as a condition of receipt of assistance. This interpretation while not stated explicitly in the Act or the Regulations is the understanding on which the administration of CAP was based from the commencement of operations.

Fourth, the use of the words "the extension of assistance and welfare services programs throughout Canada23," could be taken as referring to the restatement of the prohibition against residency requirements as a condition of receipt of social assistance, first introduced in the Unemployment Assistance Act. Some provinces and municipalities had regularly enforced such restrictions previously, requiring applicants to return to their previous city of residence, and supplying only enough assistance to allow for the return journey.

Fifth, cost-sharing was introduced for welfare services on the basis that such services would assist in the "prevention and removal of the causes of poverty24." Later in the Act welfare services are given a further interpretation following the statement in the Preamble to mean services "provided in the province pursuant to the provincial law to or in respect of persons in need or persons who are likely to become persons in need unless such services are provided25." This definition was considered key to the expansion of welfare services to a clientele which included not only social assistance recipients but also to a broader range of persons who were likely to be in need.

Finally, to further reduce "dependence on public assistance26," cost-sharing for what were called work activity projects was introduced. These projects were to be established to "prepare for entry or return to employment persons in need or likely to become persons in need27."

At the same time, it is also worth noting that the use of the term "provision of adequate assistance" was not intended to have particular importance. It was expected that the establishment of the social assistance rate structure through which adequacy is operationalized would remain the sole perogative of the provinces.

The key cost-sharing agreements are under Part I of the Act since it is through them that most of the funds under the Canada Assistance Plan are disbursed. Under Part I such agreements that are signed must include several undertakings by the provinces/territories in relation to the administration of social assistance and welfare services. First, each province must agree to provide assistance to any person in the province who is in need. In doing so it must take into account "each applicant's budgetary requirements and the income and resources available to him to meet them28." It must also agree not to require a period of residence in the province as a condition of eligibility. Further it must establish an appeal procedure from decisions in regard to social assistance within one year of the signing of the agreement. It must undertake to maintain accounts in relation to the provison of social assistance and welfare services in the province. And, lastly each province/territory must supply copies of all relevent provincial Acts and Regulations.

The Federal government agrees on its side to pay 50% of the cost of shareable assistance and welfare services in each province /territory, whether expended by the province, a *municipality or a provincially approved agency. Two methods of calculating expenditures are specified in the legislation but all of the provinces have chosen to use a method which involves full cost-sharing of assistance and the sharing of all costs of welfare services which exceed the base year of l964-65. CAP will not share the cost of services which may be shared in some way under any other legislation, nor the cost of capital equipment. At present there are l2 agreements under Part I.

Part II of the Act allows for the establishment of agreements to extend welfare services in the province to Indians as defined under the Indian Act. Such agreements require the approval of the Minister responsible for the Indian Act as well as the Minister responsible for CAP. At the same time Part II makes clear that the provinces are not required to provide welfare services under Part I if there is no agreement under Part II. At present there is only one agreement, with the Province of Manitoba, under Part II.

Part III of the Act relates to work activity project agreements. This part of the Act was intended to encourage the provinces to develop projects which would provide training and/or rehabilitation aimed at returning recipients to the labour force. Such agreements which provide for 50/50 cost-sharing of the expenses require the provinces to undertake that no one be denied social assistance if they do not accept to be part of a work activity project, and that participants continue to be eligible for social assistance and welfare services. Ten provinces/ territories have agreements under Part III.

Lastly, under Part IV, all provinces and territories *may receive cost-shared funding of Mother's Allowances.

Each province/territory is required to have a separate agreement with the federal government under Part I and under Part II of the Act. Provisional on the signing of an agreement under Part I a province or territory may establish an agreement under Part III. Part IV simply requires that written notice be given for the inclusion of Mothers' Allowances. Extensive Regulations under the Act amplify the interpretation of terms used in the Act and the operation of the cost-sharing agreements29.

The Administration of the Canada Assistance Plan

After the passage of the Canada Assistance Plan in 1966, the federal government and the provinces began negociating agreements under the three main parts of the Act. By 1969 most provinces had reached agreement under Part I [cost-sharing of social assistance and services]. These agreements required the attachment of appendices listing the various relevant provincial Acts [Schedule C], and the provincial non-governmental social service agencies [Schedule B] and homes for special care which should be accepted for the purposes of cost-sharing.

Since the signing of the agreements these appendices have been updated continuously. While changing the listing of provincial legislation is a simple matter, amending the list of agencies for a particular province requires the formal consideration by CAP of each organization, its aims, the service to be provided, and a determination of whether the services are destined for "persons in need" or "likely to be in need".

Under CAP there are two methods of payment to the provinces and territories. Under the first method used by the territories and by nine of the ten provinces, CAP pays in effect on the basis of claims submitted monthly by the provincial/territorial administration. For each fiscal year each of the latter submits an estimate of yearly expenditures. CAP pays one twelvth of this estimate for the month of April. For each subsequent month payments are made on the basis of a claim [Form 1] submitted to CAP for the previous month. Each provincial/territorial administration is required to submit a final claim [Form 5] and reconciliation within one year of the close of the fiscal year.

Quebec is the only province using the second method. It receives the value of one tax point directly from the federal Minister of Finance annually. The Department of Finance informs CAP of the value of the tax point which is then deducted from the annual estimate of yearly expenditure which provincial officials are required to submit to CAP. Quebec receives one twelfth of the difference each month from CAP.

The CAP Directorate

The CAP Directorate is located within the federal Department of Health and Welfare. Each year it is charged with processing 12 settlements under Part I of the Act, 1 settlement under Part II of the Act relating to Indian Welfare [Manitoba], and 10 under Part III for work activity projects. In addition, CAP has also been charged with the administration of 5 agreements in relation to the Young Offenders Act, and 11 in relation to the Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Act [Quebec is the exception], and the federal agreement with Ontario for the provision of welfare services to Indians30.

At present CAP is organized into three main units. The Field Service branch with roughly 50% of staff is decentralized across the country. The Program Finance and Assistance and Services branches are located in Ottawa. The number of person years attributed to CAP is now 94.5 a slight fall from 98 in l984-85. The most senior position in CAP is the Director-General, who is in turn responsible to the Assistant Deputy Minister for Social Services.

The Field Offices are small 3 to 4 person offices located in nine of the provincial capitals. In addition PEI is covered by the New Brunswick office, NWT by the Alberta office and the Yukon by the B.C. office. The role of the field offices is to receive and review claims and to facilitate the monthly advances to the provinces.

The role of the Assistance and Services branch is to review and make recommendations on whether new provincial programmes, changes to existing programes, and new agencies and institutions are acceptable for the purposes of cost-sharing. In the past CAP had group of officers whose role was to consult with the provinces in order to encourage the development of provincial programmes. In recent years the consultant role within CAP has been reduced;consultants in other branches of the Department are available when requested. This move away from specialization is reflected in the reorganization of the CAP Directorate which took place in l987. The consultants in the Assistance and Services branch are responsible now for all aspects within a particualar geographical area.

CAP attempts to take a conciliatory and cooperative position while promoting assistance and services as laid down in the legislation, regulations, and in the guidelines. Nonetheless, this has meant conflict with provinces wishing to introduce programmes not deemed to fit the Act. For example, some provinces have introduced rules which require women to claim maintenance awarded to them before claiming social assistance. CAP has said that there must be leeway to delay applicability or to exempt applicants or the province will risk losing cost-sharing. In general however, with some 20 consultants, CAP is simply not in a position to follow up on the administration of social assistance in 9 one tier and 3 two tier provincial/territorial administrations, and on the provision of welfare services in the 5636 homes for special care and the 4800 welfare service agencies listed in the CAP agreements31.

The Claims Process

How are CAP claims processed and settled ? First,each province/territory must submit a final claim to the CAP Directorate-Form 5-prepared and signed by the Provincial Auditor. The claim is then sent both to the appropriate field office [nine offices in each of the provincial capitals except Charlottetown, PEI]. The Field Office's report is relayed to the federal Audit Service Bureau where a report is prepared and sent to the province with a schedule of discrepancies. A meeting is then held between CAP administrators and provincial officials to arrive at a settlement. Lastly, after settlement an official report is prepared which is signed by the Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare and his/her provincial counterpart and a cheque is prepared to cover the final amount due. The agreement can still be reopened at a later date if necessary.

Since the accounts of each listed provincial non-profit agency must also be audited, the claims process may involve up to 6 audits or reviews before settlement. Consequently there is pressure at both the federal and provincial levels to speed up the claims process if not to streamline it. CAP's main approach is to attempt a closer involvement with the provincial audit process in order to reduce time consuming and costly duplication. In the case of Quebec it means attempting a closer involvement in the preparation of the annual estimates.

The Neilson Task Force Report on the Canada Assistance Plan referred to delays in the processing of claims of up to seven years32. According to CAP administrators there are two main reasons for such delays. Provinces/territories which have not settled a contentious item have frequently requested a delay in the submission of a claim until the matter is settled. Requests for a delay have also resulted from audit dificulties at the provincial level. Such extensions to the date of submission are at the discretion of the Minister but in practice they are approved automatically.

One further and crucial reason for delays was the result of changes to the Established Programmes Financing and Fiscal Arrangements Act [EPF] of l977 which affected CAP. The switch of extended health care from EPF to CAP was done without the prior establishment of guidelines for implementation. The necessary guidelines took some seven years to develop, delaying settlement of claims which included extended health care. Some significant large settlements have allowed CAP administration to catch up but the largest outstanding items continue to relate to extended health care.

Policy Guidelines For CAP

A key aspect of the process of administering the Act is the determination of which provincial/territorial programmes can be accepted for the purposes of cost-sharing. In the early years of the operation of the Plan, there were few guidelines. In fact the development of detailed guidelenes does not appear to have been a priority. Between l967 and l973 there were Notes on Welfare Services, and on Homes for Special Care. CAP administrators saw their role as one of encouraging the development of provincial assistance and welfare services. Consultants with specialized knowledge in aspects of assistance welfare services were hired to help in this process. At the same time many of the federal and provincial administrators knew each other and had worked together in such organizations as the Canadian Welfare Council. Not surprisingly, CAP administrators relied on an informal rather than a more formal process of decisionmaking33.

Written guidelines began to appear for differing aspects of assistance and services over the period from l973 to 1977. In large measure these written guidelines were a response to circumstances. For example,in the process of reviewing claims in the provinces CAP administrators found that institutions for juvenile delinquents were being funded under social services. This prompted the development of guidelines for this area [1974] because correctional services are not cost shareable under the Act. Similarly, interim day care guidelines appeared in l973 after several provinces expressed an interest in expanding their services34.

Guidelines for Assistance [welfare] first appeared in 1975 in the middle of the Social Security Review by which time the operation of the Canada Assistance Plan was the subject of critical assessment particularly in respect to the relation between social assistance and the working poor. Similarly revised guidelines for welfare services appeared in l974 and new guidelines for child welfare in l97535.

In the late l970's the Auditor General of Canada began pressing Health and Welfare and CAP to develop a policy manual which would be a compilation of the guidelines which had been prepared as well as the written decisions which had been taken in regard to assistance and services and embeded in memoranda and letters to provincial administrators. This recommendation was reiterated in the report of the Parliamentary Task Force on Federal-Provincial Fiscal Relations in l98136. The guidelines which were developed in the l970s had become key administrative documents but were not generally available publically. Non-profit agencies providing service, in effect, under the Canada Assistance Plan were not aware of the guidelines and consequently did not know what was cost-shareable under the Act.

Work began on a policy manual in l981-82 and but it has only recently been completed, reflecting, according to the current Director-General of CAP, the lack of resources available to CAP to handle the claims and further develop administrative guidelines. The draft Policy Manual is currently in use within the CAP Directorate, and will shortly be released to the provinces and to the public. It will not be vetted by the provinces prior to its release since it confirms policy and practice in the administration of CAP over the previous twenty year period. Once the manual is in place there are plans to ensure a regular update.

A thorough review of all of the guidelines or indeed of the manual itself when it is available publicly would be a worthwhile undertaking but it is beyond the scope of this more brief analysis. Here I will focus on the current guidelines for the two principle programmes under CAP, General Assistance and Welfare Services.

The Social Assistance Guidelines

The Guidelines on Assistance, l987, deal with four main issues:earnings exemptions,asset exemptions,flat rate allowances for the aged and disabled, and supplementation for low income earners37. The earnings exemptions specified in the guidelines restrict the amount of net earned income which may be received by individuals and families on welfare in the provinces and territories of Canada if the welfare payments are to be cost-shared under the Canada Assistance Plan. A family may earn a maximum of "the greater of $190. or 25% of social assistance, plus family allowances and child tax credit benefits, if any, to which the family would be entitled if the family had zero income." A single person is entitled to earn a maximum of "the greater of $95. or 25% of the amount of social assistance to which the person would be entitled if he had zero income." In this case the key phrase is net income which means gross income from wages and salaries less "nonvoluntary deductions at source," or self-employed income less allowable deductions and business expenses. Provinces are allowed to use whatever method they prefer in stating these criteria38.

With rising unemployment and the attendant social assistance caseload, many provinces were pressing the federal government to relax the rules in regard to work and welfare. At a September l985 meeting of the Federal-Provincial Ministers Conference, an agreement was reached to change these guidelines to permit training allowances to be considered as earned income and subject to the earnings exemptions, to permit retention by trainees of non-cash or special benefits, and to allow the provinces to exceed the earnings exemptions for up to 12 months . These changes are to remain in effect for 3 years, in conjunction with the federal-provincial employment strategy39.

Holdings of liquid assets by welfare recipients are also restricted under the guidelines. The maximum amounts which recipients are permitted to retain if their welfare payments are to be eligible for cost-sharing are $2500 for a single person, $3000 for a single person who is aged or disabled, $5000 for a person with one dependent, and an additional $500 for each dependent. A family of four are permitted up to a maximum of $6000 in liquid assets. The emphasis here is on the word liquid, which can be interpreted to mean that housing is exempted from this regulation. However, a dispute with one of the provinces over whether it had the right the attach a lien to the housing equity of assistance recipients has only recently been resolved with the province agreeing to discontinue the practice since it turned social assistance, in effect, into a loan. Provincial administrators are given the discretion to exempt particular applicants from the effect of these restrictions in special circumstances.

As the guidelines on liquid assets make clear:"Provinces of course are free to establish lower asset exemption levels for all or part of their social assistance programs40." In practice, as a recent study of liquid asset exemption levels across Canada makes clear, only one province has set levels at the maximum permitted under the guidelines, but only for those deemed unemployable. On the other hand the province of British Columbia permits an unemployable single parent with one child a maximum of $1500 in assets, $3500 below the maximum permissable. The levels for those applicants defined as employable are considerably lower than the maximum permissable in all provinces/territories but two, Ontario and Quebec. The implication of this restriction is that administrators can and do require applicants to run down their assets to support themselves before being eligible to apply for welfare41.

Similarly, the net earnings exemptions vary widely across the country. Only four of the provinces and territories have the same restrictions for the employable category as well as the unemployable category. In general the exemption levels are higher for those defined as unemployable. There are however three exceptions. Ontario will allow close to the CAP maximum for a family if work related expenses are considered. In addition New Brunswick has recently changed its rules such that recipients can until October l988 earn incomes beyond the previous exemptions levels for up to two months for a single person and three months for a family. Similar changes in British Columbia mean that it has exceeded the cost sharing guidelines42.

The third CAP Assistance Guideline relates to special allowances which the provinces or territories may give to people who are aged or disabled. At present the maximum flat rate allowance, for people aged 60 years or older or disabled, which can be subject to cost-sharing is $175 for single persons and $350 for a couple.

The last Assistance Guideline refers to the supplementation of the incomes of low income earners for the purposes of cost-sharing. In short, the same guidelines pertaining to the exemption of earned income and liquid assets apply to low income earners as those on welfare. This limitation is still in place because the federal government and the provinces were not able to come to an agreement over the implementation of a scheme to supplement the income of persons with a permanent attachment to the labour force but whose incomes are still very low. Provinces are of course free to establish their own schemes but at present it is special benefits such as dental care which are available to the working poor.

Social assistance is usually referred to as the social programme of last resort;it is the assistance guidelines that ensure this43. On the one hand, the asset exemption levels ensure that the applicant must be reduced to a very low level of poverty into order to be eligible for assistance. On the other hand, the earnings exemption levels ensure that eligible recipients can work only very limited part-time or casual hours in order to supplement what is a relatively mean existence on social assistance. Even the addition of provincial shelter and other supplements, usually leaves recipients well below the Statistics Canada poverty line44.

In the 19th century the usual distinction between applicants for charity was between the deserving and the undeserving poor. The deserving poor were those who were deemed to be down on their luck but capable of becoming self-supporting if they received some immediate assistance. The modern welfare state has changed the definitions for now those who are first on the list of the deserving are the elderly, whose need for income security is now broadly recognized in Canada. And while hardly generous the level of income security available to them is at least less mean and more easily accessible than for social assistance recipients who now are the least deserving of claimants for social support. Within the category of social assistance beneficiaries there is a further operative distinction between those defined to be unemployable and those defined to be employable:the latter are the very least deserving. Therefore the rates of benefit of employable recipients are lower and the conditions they face in claiming welfare are more difficult in order to discourage them from remaining on welfare for very long. For example the asset and earnings exemptions are more restrictive for those deemed employable. Were the purpose to encourage welfare recipients then social assistance would provide the income security base while earnings for those able to work would take them out of poverty. When looked at in this way it is clear that the CAP guidelines remain rooted in a punitive approach to the provision of social assistance.

Ironically the Guidelines on Assistance first appeared in l975 in the midst of the Social Security Review. They were to be a part of the bargaining process between the federal government and the provincial governments and as such they were to be Interim Guidelines;it was expected that within two years they would be superceded by the new legislation then being discussed. Since the Social Security Review did not lead to legislative reform on the question of an income supplementation scheme to provide incentive and additional income to the working poor, it is an irony that one lasting result of the process was the Guideline on Assistance which has since served to limit the development of supplementation schemes at the provincial level. The wording of the Act itself does not prevent cost-sharing of supplementation schemes. The intent of the Interim Assistance Guidelines was to put into words the best of provincial practice at the time. Since l975, there has been little pressure for change. The l985 additions to allow for higher levels of earned income for recipients were part of the Employment Initiatives programme and intended to be in place for a three year period.

Although the Act and regulations specify that participating provinces are required to use a test of needs rather than a test of means, the details of administration are left to the provincial and territorial authorities. In general the present testing procedure involves two stages. First, a welfare worker fills out a form on behalf of the applicant which involves a review of resources, and in the process ensures that the applicant is receiving benefits under any other social programme for which they may be eligible. The latter may also be told, depending on the rules that apply in particular jurisdictions, that they are ineligible because they either quit or were fired from a job. They may also be told that they are ineligible because they do not have a residence.

If they proceed further they are then asked about their budgetary requirements including those of their dependent[s]. In many jurisdictions the administrative authority has evolved what is known as a pre-added budget in which amounts are established for key items such as food and clothing. CAP has insisted that shelter however remains a variable item. This further limits the flexibility of the needs test from the point of view of the applicant. Resources less budgetary requirements leads to an assessment of the budgetary deficit. At this stage the welfare worker must then decide on whether the applicant is eligible for assistance. If the answer is yes, the worker then has reference to a scale of rates which establishes what level of income assistance the applicant can receive according to such criteria as age, marital status, number of dependents, disability, and employability. The later is crucial in deciding whether the applicant will be considered in many jurisdictions for long term or short term assistance.

This is a very general picture and the specifics may vary. Nonetheless some key aspects of social assistance administration are made clear. First, the assessment of need is not directly translated into assistance. The needs assessment is used as a basis for allowing the welfare worker to decide on eligibiity. The actual level of assistance is determined according to the scale. The main change from pre-CAP practice is that budgetary requirements as well as means are assessed. This may have widened the scope of eligibity but assistance levels are still determined by reference to the scale. The levels of assistance do not guarantee that the applicant's budgetary deficit [need] is met.

While one purpose of CAP was to eliminate the categorical approach to assistance, ie. blind, disabled, aged, single parents, etc., in practice it is these categories which are used to determine levels of assistance. CAP was also supposed to eliminate the distinction between the employable and unemployable applicant. To the extent that applicants are not cut-off because they can work, this has been accomplished at the application stage. However, levels of assistance are still determined according to whether the applicant is deemed to be employable. Since employability is not a condition easily assessed objectively, provinces have found it easy and convenient to move recipients from the unemployable to the employable category in order to reduce the welfare budget and the welfare rolls. Further, while the CAP Act is quite clear that cost-shared funds are only available if there is no residence requirement, nonetheless in some jurisdictions applicants are denied assistance for lack of a residence.

Standards for welfare rates were not part of the Act nor of the regulations. Neither did they become a part of the guidelines. Minimum standards were raised in the Orange Paper of l973 in Propositions l2 and l3 but the question has not been since pursued45. Welfare rates have been interpreted to be the full perogative of the provinces/territories. However, the purpose of the Act is to provide cost-sharing in order to ensure "adequate assistance" to those in need, and it is at least arguable that CAP has an obligation to ensure this. And how else to ensure adequacy than by setting standards at least in relation to the federal government's own poverty lines established by Statistics Canada46.

Lastly, as Fiscal Federalism in Canada noted there are no CAP guidelines on appeals by an applicant who is refused assistance or receives less than she/he believes is appropriate47. The recent National Councial of Welfare report on Welfare In Canada noted that all provinces now have an appeal system in operation.Most provinces have a two tier system of administrative review and appeal to a formal review board. Members of these higher boards are provincial appointments. Few boards contain members with backgound or expertise in the field and most do not make provision for the representation of social assistqance recipients past or present. Most provinces do not provide for interim assistance for appellants nor for representation on appeal. Welfare workers with whom I consulted agreed that the likelihood of a client winning an appeal in circumstances where they presented evidence against, was low. An alternative advocated by one welfare rights lawyer to this situation is the review of administrative decisionmaking directly through the courts48.

The Welfare Services Guidelines

The Welfare Services guidelines specify which services are shareable under the Canada Assistance Plan, which costs of providing the services are shareable, for which clientele the services are shareable, how the individual province/territory goes about claiming under CAP, and how the size of the federal contribution is determined. There are two methods from which each province/territory may chose for cost-sharing of welfare services. Under the first method CAP will share the cost of services provided directly to persons in need, as determined by a test of need. Cost-sharing is available only on services specified in the Regulations including rehabilitation, casework, counselling and assessment, and homemaker, day care and similar services. These services are "purchased by or at the request of a provincially approved agency," where such agencies include those which are non-profit as well as those which are commercial and for-profit49.

The other method involves the provision of services not only to persons in need but also to persons likely to be in need if the service is not provided. Under this provision a wider range of services are cost-shared including operating costs for day cares but the agencies providing services must be non-profit. As mentioned earlier CAP has a listing procedure for such agencies. Likelihood of need is determined according to a more complex test of individual income which was first established in the l974 Day Care Guidelines. Rather than an individual test CAP will also accept sample surveys which provide evidence that 90% of a class of recipients have incomes below the turning point of the individual income test [above which the applicant is no longer eligible for full support]50.

In general CAP does not share in the costs of providing services which fall outside of the definition of welfare services. Such services include educational, correctional, health care, recreational, cultural, police, school, hospital and mental hospital social services. Shareable costs for services which are covered include salaries, travel, registration fees, training, research and consultation. In addition, CAP shares in the cost of demonstration projects undertaken for up to three years. Changes to the CAP regulations in l972 authorized cost-sharing for the operating costs of day care services. In general, capital costs and operating expenses are not shareable.

The test of likelihood of need has clearly expanded the numbers of persons who can receive either partially or fully subsidized social services. As the CAP annual reports reveal, the numbers of day cares listed under the Act expanded rapidly after the passage of the amendments to the regulations in l972. However, the expansion of the funding was fully in keeping with the three premises of the act which are to use social services to reduce poverty and dependency on social assistance, and to limit the availability of services to the poor. The income test has the effect of expanding the category of the poor to include persons for partial subsidy whose income is some distance above the poverty line51.

The Social Security Review and the Social Services Act which was to follow from it proposed to sever the link between social services and social assistance and to expand the availability of services. The link which was maintained and emphasized at the time was that between the expansion of services and the reduction of dependency. Since the failure of the Social Services Act these issues have largely disappeared from the public agenda. Only the expansion of day care on a universal basis has resurfaced in the last several years, although it does not appear that the present Conservative government intends to pursue this goal from the details of their proposals announced recently.

Although several provinces have severed the link between social assistance and services in their administration of social assistance, this is not the norm. Instead social assistance continues to be administered on the basis that persons who are poor and in need necessarily are dysfunctional and require counselling.

Financing of Social Assistance and Services

The financial administration of CAP is based on six categories of activities. These include general assistance, homes for special care, children's institutions, child welfare, welfare services and work activity, and health care. Some description of these categories is useful before proceding to look at the data on the financing of these activities under the Canada Assistance Plan. General Assistance includes funding for provincial programmes of monetary assistance. Provincial distinctions between short and long term welfare are not relevant here; what is relevant is that the provinces must not have regulations which restrict eligibility contrary to the Canada Assistance Plan.

The section relating to homes for special care has been made significantly more complicated by the changes initiated under the Established Programmes Financing and Fiscal Arrangements Act of 1977. In addition to the shift to block funding from the previous formula financing, changes were made to move nursing homes from cost-sharing under the Canada Assistance Plan. However some types of nursing homes which constitute a Supportive Living Environment, or 'SLE' homes are eligible on the grounds that they provide services for up to one year rather than on an open-ended basis. The latter include, for example, homes for alcoholics, for battered women, and halfway houses for people previously institutionalized. In addition it should be noted that this category is for adult nursing home care only. Funding for children's institutions includes group homes, treatment centres and homes for the mentally retarded. Under the category of child welfare CAP includes the funding of adoption, protection, and maintenance of children. The latter includes funding for foster care where the child is under the protection of the provincial child welfare agency. Administrative costs are not considered here but under the welfare services category.

Under welfare services and work activity CAP groups the administrative costs associated with both child welfare and such services as individual and family counselling, family mediation, advocacy, etc. The list is a very long one and is determined by the length of the list of such services which are covered under the relevant provincial legislation. Health care includes the cost of medication, medical and dental services, dentures and other medical and dental services which are not available under the particular provincial medical and dental insurance and assistance programmes but allowable under provincial social assistance regulations. Such benefits are usually known as special assistance. Work activity is a very specific category of programme under which provinces may attempt to assist long term welfare assistance recipients to return to the labour force.

Vocational rehabilitation, unlike the other categories derives from a separate piece of legislation, whose administration was transferred to Health and Welfare Canada in the mid-seventies. Eligibility is restricted to the disabled who are seeking training in order to return to the labour force. Unlike other parts of the CAP administration a needs test is not required. People seeking training to cope with a disability, in order to remain active as a parent at home, are also eligible for assistance52.

One further point should be noted about the data before examining trends in the financing under the Act. Two sets of data are available. In the past it was the practice to record payments in the year in which the CAP Directorate actually made the payment. However since there is often a considerable delay in the submission of claims by the provinces and in their processing by the CAP Directorate the payments recorded for a particular year may in fact refer to expenses incurred over the seven previous years. Recently the CAP Directorate has begun making available data according to the year of expenditure which constitute a more accurate picture of expenditures by year.

Each of these sets of data present difficulties for interpretation. In the case of the payments by year the data for any particular year include expenditures relating to a variety of other years. The extent to which these data are at least representative depends on the percentage of expenditures which do actually relate to the appropriate year. In the case of the data applied to the actual year of expenditure the data are at present only available for the period from 1981/82 to 1985/86 and hence do not allow us to examine trends over the life of the Act. Further the accuracy of data is dependent on the speed with which the provinces attend to the submission of claims and the CAP Directorate attends to the processing of the claims.

Both sets of data contain numerous inconsistencies in the reporting of the claims. For example, in the recording of provincial claims for day care it was reported that some provinces attach expenses related to social assistance recipients to claims for general assistance. In other cases day care expenses are attached to claims for welfare services. Such inconsistencies may even be reflected in the claims submitted from one province. Since CAP is dependent on the reporting of claims by the provinces and does not have a definitive set of financial reporting sub-categories, these problems with the data are unlikely to be corrected in the near future53.

In reviewing the totals of the six categories of CAP expenditure for all provinces, it is clear that the largest is general assistance and the smallest is health care. Over the six year period for which the data are available, applied to the actual year of expenditure, general assistance increased by 108.8% to a total of $5.9 billion dollars. These data reflect both the federal and the provincial contributions. Federal expenditures consequently are half of the total in each category. In 1980/81 General Assistance payments represented 63.6% of all expenditures under CAP while Health Care represented 2.5%.

An examination of the percentage composition of expenditures over the six year period under review reveals that General Assistance and Health Care have been increasing in importance while expenditures in the other four categories have been declining. The next largest category of expenditure has been Welfare Services and Work Activity which declined in importance from 16.8% in 1980/81 to 15.6% in 1985/86. Overall CAP expenditures taken as applied to the actual year in which the expense was incurred rose by 92.6% over the six year period.

Beneficiaries of the Canada Assistance Plan

The principle group of beneficiaries of the Canada Assistance Plan are the claimants of social assistance and their dependents. Data for the five year period from 1981/82 to 1985/86 indicates that the largest increase in the numbers of beneficiaries was in the province of British Columbia where the total rose from 144,000 to 255,700 an increase of 76.5%. By way of contrast the total for Canada as a whole increased by 26% while the rate for the largest provinces, Quebec and Ontario, were 23.5% and 19.4% respectively; the provinces of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island experienced a decline of 15.15% and 18.6%.

When we look at the composition of social assistance beneficiaries by province these changes are reflected in the growth in importance of the British Columbia beneficiaries in Canada. In 1981/82, 9.6% of beneficiaries were in British Columbia; by 1985/86 this figure had risen to 13.5%. Over the same period, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta experienced slight increases in the percentage of beneficiaries while all of the other provinces and territories experienced a decline in the relative importance of beneficiaries on their books in relation to the numbers in Canada. Lastly, when we compare the provinces by the percentage of beneficiaries in relation to population, we find that the largest change has again occurred in British Columbia from 4.5% in 1979/80 to 7.7% in 1985/86. The largest concentration of beneficiaries in relation to population was in the Northwest Territories at 14.3% and the next largest was in Quebec at 10.2%. The lowest figure was for the Yukon at 4.8% and the next lowest, at 5.2%, was Ontario.

A review of beneficiaries of the Canada Assistance Plan provides evidence of the considerable growth in the size of the dependent population54. Over this sixteen year period the number of persons dependent on General Assistance has grown by 29.6%. The largest increase occurred in the province of British Columbia at 65.1%. The only other provinces exhibiting large increases over the period were Nova Scotia at 58.1% and Quebec at 41.9%. At the same time the numbers of beneficiaries fell significantly in Newfoundland, by 48.8%, and to a much lesser degree in P.E.I., Manitoba and in Saskatchewan. Without a detailed analysis of unemployment, migration, and the characteristics of the provincial population it is difficult to be clear on the reasons for these changes over time. However, the impact of the 1971 changes in the Unemployment Insurance Act is immediately apparent. Of the 11 provinces and territories for which data are available, nine experienced a significant drop in the number of welfare beneficiaries in the several years immediately after the changes to unemployment insurance. By 1973/74, the number of beneficiaries nation-wide had fallen by 17.3% to the lowest level in the history of the Canada Assistance Plan. Since then the number of beneficiaries has been increasing up to a peak in 1984/85 of 1.9 million or 7.3% of the population.

The impact of unemployment on the number of beneficiaries is difficult to discern because of the many factors involved. Between March 1971 and March 1974 unemployment dropped from 7.0% to 5.8%. However, the impact of this drop is dependent on the numbers of persons on social assistance who were employable and were, as a consequence of the increased availability of work, able to obtain work. Others, as a result of the expansion of the categories of work covered by unemployment insurance, were able to obtain insurance benefits and reduce or eliminate their need for social assistance. Seasonal workers in the fisheries were one group to which eligibility was extended in the 1971 changes. In Newfoundland, a province in which we would expect there to have been a significant impact on the numbers dependent on social assistance fell shortly after 1970/71. Oddly however, the numbers of beneficiaries actually rose initially in P.E.I. and in Nova Scotia.

The dramatic increase in the numbers of beneficiaries in the 1980s appears to have been strongly influenced by the change in unemployment particularly after 1981. But while recorded unemployment reached a peak in 1983/84 beneficiaries reached a peak in 1984/85. This lag in effect is what we would expect in that the likelihood is that unemployed workers would resort to unemployment insurance before social assistance.

(1980/81 - 1985/86)
Table 10-1

1980/81 - 1985/86
Table 10-2

Table 10-3

Table 10-4

1981/82 TO 1985/86 AS OF JUNE EACH YEAR
Table 10-5

Table 10-6


From this review of the history, administration and performance of the Canada Assistance Plan it appears that its strength is also its weakness. The strength of the Plan is its flexibility and relative responsiveness to provincial requirements. As a consequence the Plan has survived and remained in operation over the last twenty years. The reforms which were attempted but not accomplished were largely intended to expand the scope of its operations. It remains the principal open-ended cost-shared federal- provincial expenditure programme.

At the same time the reliance on provincial administration is also its weakness. Some of the objectives of the Canada Assistance Plan have not been nor could be met without the voluntary commitment of the individual provinces to effect them in their administration. The operation of CAP is such that provincial practice is either beyond the scope of enforcement or impossible to enforce without an enormous and costly staff committment. In fact CAP was a funding framework superimposed over the existing provincial administration which largely did not change despite the language of the Act and the expectations for it.

Flexibility was also assured through leaving benefit levels to be established exclusively by the provinces. Despite the concern for adequacy expressed in the legislation, CAP has no standards for social assistance, the rate strucure being determined exclusively by each individual provincial administration. While the provinces participating in the Plan cannot limit its applicability to those deemed resident for any particular period of time, what assistance is available can and does vary widely across the country.

The Canada Assistance Plan was intended to contribute towards the modernization of the social assistance system in Canada. It was intended that it would eliminate the means test, and make assistance available on the basis of need, eliminating the distinctions between categories of beneficiary, particularly the unemployed abd the unemployable. CAP was also to ensure that there would be a national system available to all without regard for residence, eliminate work for welfare and provide retraining for entry into the labour force. It was to do all this while assuring due process in the consideration of assistance applications. As the foregoing analysis suggests, it was only partially successful in meeting some of these goals.

In addition there are several fundamental issues in the organization of social service and assistance which it failed to address: the relationship between social assistance rates and an adequate standard of living or just how poor people on welfare should be; the relation between social assistance rates and the income to be derived from the least paying job,or "less eligibility"; the relationship between social services and social assistance or whether persons who are poor are necessarily in need of counselling and whether it is best provided by the same administrator who is deciding on social assistance; and whether social services in a modern society should be available universally to all. These issues have been the subject of debate over the life of CAP most notably in the context of the Social Security Review which began after the release of the Orange Paper in l973. However the promise of reform came up against the reality of federal-provincial conflict, and CAP was left largely intact.

One of the centrepieces of the Social Security Review l973-76 was the proposal for an income supplementation scheme for the working poor55. While hardly the best approach, in lieu of a full employment policy, such a scheme would undoubtedly have been several steps ahead of the present system. As was noted earlier, the failure of the federal and provincial governments to agree on the terms of cost-sharing and administration appeared to have scuttled the scheme. But is this sufficient explanation? There remains the question of the priority attached to assisting those people who in contemporary society are still considered the least deserving, the unemployed. Attempting to lay the blame for the present situation on either the federal or the provincial administrations is an unrewarding approach. The prolonged recession, the virtual death of popular protest movements for social justice and welfare reform, and the predominately conservative politics of the ten year period since the disappearance of the Social Security Review, have meant that improvement and expansion of the welfare system have been off the public agenda.

The history of recent federal and provincial social policy has been one of the gradual erosion of what the current Prime Minister has referred to as our "sacred trust." Since CAP is a cost-shared programme dependent on provincial administration it is easy for the federal government to claim that the erosion of social assistance is a matter to be taken up with the provinces. What has been the record of the present federal government in regard to CAP? First, following the Employment Initiatives the government has concluded a series of agreements with several of the provinces [The Employability Enhancement Accords] which allow them to receive funds on the basis that if welfare recipients can be found work then this represents a saving to CAP, in effect, of 50% of the welfare payments that might have been made. The agreements appear to provide for the payment of "unclaimed" CAP funds to the provinces. These payments are outside of CAP and not in its spirit.

Second, after two reports [The Cooke Task Force and a House of Commons Committee], the federal government has recently announced its intention to bring in new legislation on day care. While one purpose appears to be to increase funding, another is to further open up funding to for-profit as well as non-profit day care centres. The latter purpose is a change from the existing day care guidelines under CAP.

While neither of these represent significant changes to the Plan, they are a part of a continuing trend which was started in the mid-l970s: the gradual erosion of welfare56. The Neilson Task Force Report on the Canada Assistance Plan essentially recommended continuance of the Plan as it stands. There is little to suggest that the present Conservative government will do otherwise;further, they are unlikely to reverse the trend to erosion which has been occuring for some time. Despite the language of the Plan which commits the federal and participating provincial governments to providing assistance to all who need it, the reality is that no one receiving social assistance is anything other than very poor. The responsibility for this result lies neither with the federal nor with the provincial governments alone. It is the failure of the Canadian state to attach greater importance to full employment and to the treatment accorded to all those who must resort to social assistance in order to survive.


I wish to thank Katherine Graham and Graham Richies for their very useful comments on an earlier draft of this article.

1 .See for example Thomas J. Courchene, Social Policy in the 1990s, C.D. Howe Institute,l987, 81-89.
2.See Graham Riches, Food Banks and the Welfare Crisis, Canadian Council on Social Development,l986.
 3. Allan Moscovitch and Glenn Drover, "Social Expenditures and the Welfare State," In A. Moscovitch and J. Albert eds, The Benevolent State, Toronto, l987; J.R.H. Wilbur,The Bennett New Deal:Fraud or Portent?, Toronto,1968; James Struthers, No Fault of their Own:Unemployment and the Canadian Welfare State,1914-1941,Toronto, l983.
 4. The Rt. Hon. P.E Trudeau, Income Security and Social Services, Ottawa ,1969, 22-24.
 5. James Struthers, "Shadows for the Thirties:The Federal Government and Unemployment Assistance, 1941-1956," in J.S. Ismael, ed. The Canadian Welfare State, Edmonton, l987, 4-5.
 6. Royal Commission on Dominion Provincial Relations, Report, Book II, l939, 24.
 7. Moscovitch and Drover, "Social Expenditures," 26-27; R.M.Burns, The Acceptable Mean: The Tax Rental Agreements, l941-l962, Toronto,l980;Bob Russell, "The Politics of the Social Wage, l9l7-l946," Studies in Political Economy, l4, l984, 43-74.
 8.Trudeau, Income Security, 42; Struthers, "Shadows from the Thirties,"8-9
9. Struthers, "Shadows from the Thirties," 6-7.
10. Quoted in Struthers, "Shadows from the Thirties," 10.
11 . Struthers, " Shadows from the Thirties," 10-26.
 12. The Unemployment Assistance Act, 4-5 Elizabeth II, Chapter     26, ll July l956, 109-121.
 13. Statistics Canada, Social Security; National Programs, l976,251-256,289-307.
 14.See a course paper submitted at Carleton University School of Social Work, by Carolyn Queen, " Social Assistance In Nova Scotia to l960," l982; Struthers, "Shadows from the Thirties," 25.
15 .Struthers, "Shadows from the Thirties," 25-26
 16. J. Osborne, "Evolution of the Canada Assistance Plan," Appendix 3 to the Study Team Report on the Canada Assistance Plan, to the Task Force on Program Review, l985, 60-65.
 17. T Kent, Social Policies for Canada, l962.
 18. Struthers, " Shadows from the Thirties," 25-26.
 19. Many of these reports are documented in the Appendix to the Neilson Task Force Report written by John Osborne, a Special Advisor on Policy Development at Health and Welfare, 69-90. Other documents of significance would include the White Paper on Unemployment Insurance l970; the Reports to the Welfare Ministers Conference, l97l; the Report of the Quebec Commission of Inquiry on Health and Social Welfare, l97l; the Report of the Task Force on Restraint to the Interprovincial Conference of Welfare Ministers, l980.
 20.There is a considerable literature on the Social Security Review. See for example, Derek P.J. Hum, "Social Security Reform in the l970s," in J. Ismael,ed.,Canadian Social Welfare Policy, Montreal, l985, 29-47; Derek P.J. Hum, Federalism and the Poor, Toronto,l983,esp.11-27;Charles Rachlis, "A Farewell to Welfare:the Politics of the Social Security Reform and Fiscal Federalism in the l970s," Canadian Political Science Association meetings, l982; A.W. Johnson," Canada's Social Security Review, l973-75: the Central Issues," Canadian Public Policy, I:4, Autumn, l975; R. Van Loon, "Reforming Welfare In Canada," Public Policy, 27, l979, 469-504.

 21.Canada Assistance Plan, l966-67, c.45,s.l, 711.
 22.Canada Assistance Plan, 711.
 23.Canada Assistance Plan, 711.
 24.Canada Assistance Plan, 711.
 25.Canada Assistance Plan, 714.
 26.Canada Assistance Plan, 711.
 27.Canada Assistance Plan,723.
 28.Canada Assistance Plan,713.
 29.Canada Assistance Plan Regulations, Chapter 382,2617-30.
 30.In preparing this section I have had the benefit of extended interviews and consultation with CAP officials including Mr.Ron Yzerman, Acting Director-General, and Peter Collis, and Sandra Pett, Senior Program Officers. I am grateful for their assistance. The views expressed here are however my own.
 31.Canada Assistance Plan, Annual Report, l984-85,Table 5.
 32.See Appendix 2 of the Study Team Report on the Canada Assistance Plan, l985, 41-55. This Appendix contains one of the few outlines of the operation of CAP. See also, Hum, Federalism and the Poor, 28-43.
 33.Richard Splane, "Social Policy-Making in the Government of Canada: Reflections of a Reformist Bureaucrat," in Canadian Social Policy, S. Yelaja,ed., Waterloo, l978, 219; Rand Dyck, "The Canada Assistance Plan: The Ultimate in Cooperative Federalism," Canadian Public Administration, 19, l976, 590-97.
 34.Canada Assistance Plan, Annual Reports, 1966-67 to 1975-76.
 35.In outlining the genesis of the guidelines I have been greatly assisted by interviews with CAP officials and with Mr. Des Byrne, former Director-General of CAP, l975-82. The views expressed here are my own.
 36.Parliamentary Task Force on Federal-Provincial Relations, Fiscal Federalism in Canada,l981, l53.
 37.CAP Directorate, Canada Assistance Plan Guidelines on Assistance,l987.
38. References in this paragraph are to the Assistance Guidelines.
39.See Health and Welfare Canada, An Overview of Selected Government Initiatives Affecting Unemployed Employables, l985,1-2; Amendment to CAP Earnings Exemption Guideline, Federal-Provincial Ministers Conference, September l985.
40.Liquid Asset Exemption Guideline, l980.
41National Council of Welfare, Welfare in Canada, November,l987, 31-56.
43.The Neilsen Task Force Report on the Canada Assistance Plan, uses this terminology for example, 12.
44.A family may earn roughly $200 a month and an individual $100, maximum. At $5 an hour, these maximums imply 40 hours and 20 hours of work a month or 10 hours and 5 hours a week. The National Council of Welfare study provides some rough estimates of the income of three representative households on welfare. Added to social assistance were additional benefits, family allowances, the child tax credit, and other provincial credits, where relevent. Incomes were then examined in relation to poverty levels as determined by Statistics Canada estimates. These data are suggestive of the following:in 8 of the 10 provinces a single employable person would receive less than 50% of the poverty line income; a single parent with one 2 year old child would receive between 63% and 84.9% of poverty income depending on the province; and, a couple with two children ages 10 and 15 on welfare would receive between 46.3% and 82.9% of poverty income with most provinces in the 60% to 70% range. See Welfare in Canada, November,l987, Table 5, 65-72.
45.Working Paper, 37-8.
46. It appears that both the parties to CAP agreements, the federal government and the province/territory would be in violation of the terms of the Act if social assistance payments were inadequate.
47.Fiscal Federalism in Canada, 153-4.
48.Welfare In Canada,99-108; Marilyn Ginsburg,"Discretionary Power In the General Welfare Assistnce Act of Ontario," Journal of Law and Social Policy,2, l987,1-38.
49.Health and Welfare Canada, Notes on Welfare Services Under the Canada Assistance Plan,l985,4.
50.Health and Welfare, Guidelines on Liklihood of Need Under the Welfare Services Provisions of the Canada Assistance Plan,l983.
51.A.E. Jones, "The New Social Services Act," unpublished, l976.
52.I have benefitted from explanations of the categories provided to me by Mr.Peter Collis, Senior Program Officer, CAP.
53 .I am grateful to Rigo Vettoretti, Ann Tweddle, and Gilles Séguin,of the Information Services Section, Policy Planning and Information Branch, Health and Welfare Canada, and to Steve Caudle, Canada Assistance Plan, for assistance in providing me with data. The interpretations here are my own.
54. It should be noted that the data presented here on beneficiaries do not include Status Indians who receive social assistance through the Department of Indian Affairs. For example,in Saskatchewan roughly one third more beneficiaries could be added to the total for l984/5 and l985/6. The addition of this data to the total of beneficiaries would significantly change the size of the dependent population in several provinces. I am grateful to Graham Riches for reminding me of this important qualification to the data presented here and in Table V.
55.M. Lalonde, Working Paper on Social Security In Canada,l973, 29-34.
56. This theme is the subject of an earlier article on "The Welfare State Since l975," in the Journal of Canadian Studies, 21:2, l986, 77-95.