ANNUAL REPORT OF
THE CANADA ASSISTANCE PLAN
YEAR ENDED MARCH 31, 1968
(Scanned from the original)

OBJECTIVES AND MAIN FEATURES OF THE PLAN
Comprehensive Approach
Assistance on the Basis of Need
Supplementation of Income
Health Services
Mothers' Allowances and Child Care
Institutional Care
Administration and Welfare Services
Indian Welfare
Work Activity Projects

BACKGROUND AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE PLAN
Previous Public Assistance Legislation
Development of the Plan
Development of Regulations and Agreements

APPLICATION OF THE PLAN
Assistance to Persons in Need
Maintenance of Children
Institutional Care
Health Services
Welfare Services
Relationship to Categorical Programs
Provisions of Agreements under the Plan
Description of Provincial and Municipal Programs

ADMINISTRATION OF THE PLAN
Expenditures for Assistance and Welfare Services
 

OBJECTIVES AND MAIN FEATURES OF THE PLAN

The Canada Assistance Plan has two primary objectives. These are to support the provision of adequate assistance to persons in need and to encourage the development and extension of welfare services designed to help prevent and remove the causes of poverty and dependence on public assistance.

The Plan, and the Regulations and Agreements under it, are the result of close and continuing federal-provincial collaboration at the ministerial and official levels. This collaboration is being continued in the administration of the Plan.

The following are the main features of the Canada Assistance Plan:

Comprehensive Approach

The Plan supports the development of integrated, comprehensive general assistance programs, thus enabling provinces to meet the varying requirements of different groups within one program and administrative framework. Where there were formerly four federal-provincial assistance programs - for the aged, the blind, the disabled, and the unemployed - the Canada Assistance Plan makes it possible for the provinces, at their option, to combine these into a single program.

Assistance on the Basis of Need

The Plan provides for granting of assistance on the basis of an assessment of a person's budgetary requirements as well as his income and resources, rather than, as in the "categorical" programs, on the basis of income and resources only. No upper limit is placed on the benefits for which federal contributions are available.

Supplementation of Income

 An important feature of the Plan is that it provides for federal contributions toward the costs of supplementary payments over and above benefits paid under income maintenance programs such as old age security (which includes the guaranteed income supplement), the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and Unemployment Insurance.

Health Services

Through the Plan, the federal government shares in the cost of health care services for persons in need. These can include medical and surgical services, nursing, dental and optical care, including dentures and eye glasses, drugs, prosthetic appliances and other health services. To the extent that medical services are covered under the national Medicare program in any province, the sharing provisions of the Plan are not applicable.

Mothers' Allowances and Child Care

The Plan provides federal sharing in the costs of mothers' allowances, that is, programs providing aid to needy mothers and their dependent children. With the exception of one province, this form of aid has been incorporated into general assistance programs administered by the provinces. Federal sharing is also extended to cover costs of maintaining children in the care of child welfare authorities.

Institutional Care

The Plan also provides for federal sharing in the cost to the provinces and municipalities of maintaining needy persons in a wide range of residential welfare institutions, known collectively as homes for special care. These include homes for the aged, nursing homes, homes for unmarried mothers, hostels for transients and child care institutions.

Administration and Welfare Services

The Plan provides contributions toward the costs of strengthening and extending the administration of public assistance programs and associated welfare services. The services that can be supported include rehabilitation services, casework, counselling and assessment, adoption services, homemaker and day-care services, and community development.

Indian Welfare

Federal-provincial Agreements are authorized under Part II of the Plan to provide for the extension, with the consent of Indian bands, of provincial welfare programs to Indians living on reserves or in unorganized territory in the provinces. The Plan provides for federal sharing on the basis of a special financial formula that takes into account the higher expenditures incurred by the provinces in assuming this responsibility.

Work Activity Projects

Provision is made under Part III of the Plan for special work activity programs to help improve the motivation and work capacity of persons who have not been able to take full advantage of training opportunities, or who have unusual difficulty in securing or retaining employment.
 

BACKGROUND AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE PLAN

Previous Public Assistance Legislation

The Canada Assistance Plan has its roots in the public assistance programs which are being consolidated under it, particularly the four federal-provincial programs of old age assistance, blind persons allowances, disabled persons allowances and unemployment assistance. These shared-cost programs, the result of forty years of development, were preceded by a variety of measures to aid the poor. Some of these date back to the early history of the provinces, but with the advance of industrialization at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, public assistance programs began to assume major dimensions. It was then that it became necessary for the provincial and federal governments to accept responsibilities previously carried by voluntary agencies and institutions or by municipalities.

Initially the senior governments left responsibility for general assistance with the municipalities and gave special attention to readily definable groups regarded as having strong claims to aid on a more assured basis. An early example of such groups was widows with dependent children for whom provincial mothers' allowances programs were introduced during and after the First World War.

The enactment of the Old Age Pensions Act in 1927 marked the beginning of federal-provincial co-operation in the provision of assistance to a special group. Under the Act the federal government undertook to pay half the cost of pensions of up to $2O per month granted by a province to persons 70 years of age and over who met the residence requirements and means test set out in the federal Act.

The most significant amendment to the Old Age Pensions Act was the extension of coverage in 1937 to blind persons forty years of age and over. In 1951 the Act was replaced by two federal-provincial programs - the Old Age Assistance Act covering persons between the ages of 65 and 70, and the Blind Persons Act covering blind persons over the age of 2l (reduced in 1955 to age 18). In the same year the federal Old Age Security Act was passed providing a universal flat rate pension for persons 70 years of age and over.

A third federal-provincial program designed for the permanently and totally disabled was adopted in 1951 with the enactment of the Disabled Persons Act. It also employed a means test under which the applicant's income and property were taken into consideration in determining eligibility for a pension and, like old age assistance, it provided for a federal contribution of 50 per cent of assistance granted. The Blind Persons Act differed in that it provided for a federal contribution of 75 per cent and allowed higher income ceilings in determining eligibility.

Historically, the federal government made grants to provinces and municipalities for general assistance in two periods of economic depression. The first occurred just after the First World War and the second during the 1930's. During the latter grants were made on a large scale to meet assistance costs resulting from massive unemployment.

To avoid a similar situation after the Second World War, the federal government established a national contributory unemployment insurance program in 1940, with contributions beginning July 1, 1941. In 1945, as part of a comprehensive post-war plan of reconstruction, the federal government also proposed the establishment of an unemployment assistance program which it would finance and administer in conjunction with unemployment insurance. However, the federal and provincial governments failed to reach agreement on the 1945 proposals and no action was taken on unemployment assistance until 1956.

In that year, the Parliament of Canada enacted the Unemployment Assistance Act which, contrary to the approach proposed in 1945, provided for a shared-cost program under which assistance would continue to be administered by the provinces and their municipalities. The Act initially contained a population threshold feature under which federal contributions began only when the number of persons receiving assistance exceeded a stated percentage of the population; this was designed to limit federal sharing to the costs of assisting the employable unemployed. In 1957, the threshold was removed and the measure moved in the direction of becoming a general assistance program, although it retained a number of important exclusions which caused it to fall well short of being a comprehensive assistance measure.

The unemployment assistance program differed from the three categorical allowance programs in that it did not specify the conditions of eligibility under which assistance had to be granted, except for the requirement of being unemployed and in need, and it placed no ceiling on the rates of assistance to be shared. The provinces were thus free to develop their general assistance programs along lines best suited to their needs. With the stimulation of federal funds, the provinces made extensive improvements in the coverage and benefits provided under their general assistance programs in the period from 1956 to 1966, and the groundwork was laid for the adoption of a single assistance measure through which help could be provided on the basis of need to any person requiring it.

Development of the Plan

At the federal-provincial conference called in September 1963 to discuss the development of a new contributory wage related social security measure, the Canada Pension Plan, it was recognized that there was also need for an improved public assistance program. This view was expressed in the closing communiqué of the conference which proposed that "the whole field of social assistance should be jointly re-examined in the hope of developing one general assistance program based on need." The question was further considered at the federal-provincial conference of Prime Ministers and Premiers in November 1963, which recommended the establishment of "a federal-provincial working group to review the operation of all joint welfare programs, in preparation for further discussion by Ministers. "

As a result of that recommendation, a working party of federal and provincial Deputy Ministers of Welfare and other officials met in February 1964 to identify the issues that would have to be considered in developing an improved assistance program. In May 1964, the Ministers of Welfare, under the chairmanship of the Minister of National Health and Welfare, met in Ottawa to review the proposals of the working group. They recommended that the federal government and the provinces "should work toward an integrated, comprehensive general assistance program based on meeting need." The provincial Ministers also recorded their view that the federal government should "share fully in the costs of mothers' allowances, health services and administration. "

An additional factor that supported the development of more effective assistance and welfare service programs was the growing concern that was being expressed about problems of poverty. It was increasingly recognized that the talents of many Canadians were being wasted because of poverty, illness, inadequate education and training, and inequality in opportunities for work. In developing its legislative program in 1965, the government concentrated particularly on bringing forward ad group of measures designed to combat these problems by improving the opportunities of people affected by them. The aim of the programs was to achieve the full utilization of the nation's human resources and the elimination of poverty.

One of the government measures referred to in the Speech from the Throne in April 1965 was the Canada Assistance Plan. It was described by the Prime Minister as a means of providing a framework for federal-provincial co-operation in helping those who need help the most. He noted that a number of the provinces had expressed their wish to develop a comprehensive general assistance measure under which the varying requirements of different groups could be met through one program. He emphasized that the objectives of the program would be to encourage the provision of adequate levels of assistance to persons in need and to support the development of social welfare services to assist such persons in achieving the greatest possible measure of self-support.

The government's proposals for the Canada Assistance Plan were thoroughly reviewed at a second meeting of Ministers of Welfare held in April 1965, and the basic features of the Plan were approved. The provincial Ministers welcomed the Plan "as providing a basis for a new and more flexible approach to public welfare in Canada." A number of technical problems were noted during the discussion, and it was agreed that meetings of federal and provincial officials should be continued. At a third meeting of Ministers of Welfare held in January 1966, additional suggestions relating to the coverage of the Plan were made, including proposals for its extension to children and youth in the care of child welfare authorities. The extensive federal-provincial collaboration in the development of the Plan ensured its relevance to varying conditions across Canada and its acceptability to the provinces which carry administrative responsibility for the programs supported by it.

A motion for the introduction of the Canada Assistance Plan Bill was placed before the House of Commons on April 4,1966; the Bill passed first reading on June 21st and, after extensive debate, received third reading in the House of Commons on July 8th and in the Senate on July 12th. Notice of Royal Assent to the Bill was given in the Canada Gazette on July 23rd.

Development of Regulations and Agreements

Following the enactment of the legislation, extensive consultations were held with the provinces concerning the Regulations and Agreements under the Plan. This included official discussions held in each of the provinces to obtain provincial views on the proposed Regulations and Agreements and their impact on provincial programs and plans.

The Regulations, which were adopted by Order-in-Council on January 26, 1967, provided further definitions of terms as required by the legislation, outlined the kinds of costs for which contributions could be made, and indicated the basis for payment of claims under the program. These were carried forward into the Agreements which outline the undertakings by the provinces and Canada under the Plan. The dates on which Agreements under Part I were made with the provinces are indicated below. These Agreements were retroactive to April 1, 1966.
 
 
NewfoundlandMarch 30, 1967
Prince Edward IslandMarch 30, 1967
Nova ScotiaMarch 22, 1967
New BrunswickApril 5, 1967
Quebec*August 21, 1967
Ontario March 28, 1967
ManitobaMarch 20, 1967
SaskatchewanMarch 22, 1967
AlbertaMarch 30, 1967
British ColumbiaMarch 23, 1967
*The Agreement with Quebec involves Section 19 of the Canada Assistance Plan which provides that the terms of the Established Programs (Interim Arrangements) Act apply to the Plan, rather than to the four pre-existing shared-cost public assistance programs.
 

APPLICATION OF THE PLAN
 

Assistance to Persons in Need

A primary objective of the Plan is to support the provision of adequate assistance to persons in need. Contributions are made under it toward the cost of assistance granted on the basis of a needs-test - that is, a test under which the budgetary requirements, as well as the income and resources, of applicants and their dependents are taken into account. This is in contrast to the means -test under which only income and assets computed as income are taken into account within set benefit and income ceilings.

The major costs of assistance for which contributions are made under the Plan are for basic requirements which are defined in the legislation to include food, shelter, clothing, fuel, utilities, household supplies and personal requirements. When provinces enter agreements under the Plan, they agree to take these requirements into account in determining eligibility for assistance. Allowances for items such as food, clothing, household supplies and personal requirements are usually based on rate scales set by the provinces on the basis of budget studies. These allowances vary with family size and composition. For other budgetary items such as shelter, fuel and utilities, actual costs to the recipient are generally used.

The rehabilitative emphasis in the Plan is evident in its provision for contributions toward the costs of welfare services purchased for persons in need and items of special need obtained for such persons. Welfare services, which can be purchased on a fee-for-service basis, may include rehabilitation services, casework, counselling and assessment services, and home-maker and day-care services. The items of special need toward which contributions can be made include tools or equipment that are essential in enabling a recipient to obtain employment and items necessary for his safety, well-being or rehabilitation. These include household equipment and furnishings, repairs to property, special food or clothing and items required by disabled persons.

Expenditures for items of special need exceeding $500 in cost require the approval of the Director of the Canada Assistance Plan. Contributions were made during the year for such items as building supplies for repairs and additions to dwellings, installation of furnaces and plumbing, household furnishings, prostheses, and wheel chairs and attachments for quadriplegics.

The Plan is designed to support the provision of assistance to any person in need, whatever the cause of his need. The legislation does identify, however, the major groups to whom assistance will be provided. These are described as persons who are unable to provide adequately for themselves because of inability to obtain employment, loss of the principal family provider, illness, disability or age. Other persons such as those who are employed but require supplementary help may also be assisted.

The programs through which assistance is granted are variously known in the different provinces as social assistance, social allowances, general assistance, family benefits and general welfare assistance. The patterns of administration for these programs vary from province to province. In two provinces, Newfoundland and New Brunswick, the province has assumed total responsibility for assistance administration, and this is also true in Saskatchewan, except for two municipalities. In the provinces of Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario, assistance is provided through a combination of provincial and municipal administration. A similar pattern is found in Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Quebec. However, in Prince Edward Island two welfare bureaus in Charlottetown also administer assistance. In British Columbia supplementary social allowances are administered by the Old Age Assistance Board and, in Quebec, social welfare agencies administer assistance in some parts of the province. In provinces where both the province itself and its municipalities provide assistance, persons expected to be in need on a long-term basis are usually assisted through provincial programs, while those whose needs are of shorter duration are assisted by municipalities.

Maintenance of Children

The assistance provisions of the Plan also cover children under the age of twenty-one who are in the care or custody or under the control or supervision of child welfare authorities. This extends to children, most of whom are in foster homes, that have been placed in the care of such authorities by court order or by agreement with the parents. The assistance costs for which contributions can be made include foster home payments, frequently based on standard rates for various age groups, health care services and other needs of children. The programs covered include those administered by provincial child welfare authorities and through children's aid societies. In the provinces of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec and Saskatchewan the provincial departments of welfare are responsible for the administration of child welfare programs. This responsibility is borne by the provincial authorities together with children's aid societies in Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia. In Alberta where child welfare services were formerly a municipal responsibility, this authority began to be transferred to the province in 1966-67.

Institutional Care

The costs of providing care for persons in need who are in residential welfare institutions are also covered under the Plan. These institutions are referred to as homes for special care and include homes for the aged, nursing homes, hostels for transients, homes for unmarried mothers, child care institutions and other residential institutions that have the primary purpose of providing supervisory, personal or nursing care or social rehabilitation. The Plan does not cover care provided in hospitals, correctional institutions or institutions whose primary purpose is education. The homes for special care provisions of the Plan were carried forward from the Unemployment Assistance Act and extended to cover child care institutions such as receiving homes, orphanages and specialized welfare institutions for children with physical or mental disabilities.

At the end of the year, identification of all institutions that would come within the scope of the Plan had not been completed. At that time, however, so me 2, 500 institutions with a capacity of more than 85,000 beds had been recognized as homes for special care.

Health Services

Under the Plan the federal government may reimburse the provinces for half the cost of health care services provided to persons in need. The definition of health care services covers medical, surgical, obstetrical, dental and nursing services, including drugs, dressings, prosthetic appliances, and other items or services associated with the provision of specified services. Excluded are insured services within the meaning of the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Actor any other prescribed hospital care services, and services covered under the Medical Care Act in any participating province.

Welfare Services

As a means of supporting the development of preventive and rehabilitative programs, the Plan authorizes contributions toward provincial and municipal expenditures for welfare services. These are described, generally, as services that have as their object the lessening, removal or prevention of the causes and effects of poverty, child neglect or dependence upon public assistance. More particularly, they include rehabilitation services, casework, counselling and assessment services, homemaker and day-care services, and community development. Services related wholly or mainly to education, correction, recreation or the provision of health or hospital care are not covered. Administrative, secretarial and clerical functions associated with the provision of welfare services and the administration of assistance are covered, as are staff training, consultation, research and evaluation associated with welfare programs. The latter are included as a means of supporting improvements in the effectiveness of personnel and encouraging assessment of programs in relation to their objectives. An important feature of the Plan is its emphasis on prevention of the social problems that lead to poverty, family breakdown and the need for public assistance. Thus, contributions can be made for costs of welfare services extended not only to persons in need, but also to persons who may become needy if they do not receive such services.

The Plan is intended to encourage the improvement of existing services and the development of new ones. In view of this, contributions are made toward provincial or municipal expenditures for welfare services that are in excess of those incurred during a period referred to as the base year; in the case of provinces, this is the fiscal year 1964-65. The types of cost that are shared are salaries and fringe benefits, travel costs, including attendance at conferences and seminars, certain costs of staff training and development, and fees for consultation and research. Contributions are made when services are provided through departments or agencies that have been recognized as provincially approved agencies under the Plan. Most of the agencies in which costs are shared are provincial and- 13 -municipal departments of welfare, the latter varying in Size from departments employing only one or two officers to those in metropolitan areas employing several hundred persons. Contributions are also made, however, toward costs incurred by voluntary agencies to the extent that these are supported from provincial or municipal funds. These include children's aid societies, family bureaus and other agencies providing child care, family counselling, homemaker and day-care services Some 240 voluntary agencies are recognized for cost-sharing purposes under the Plan.

Relationship to Categorical Programs

A basic objective of the Plan is to support the development of integrated programs through which assistance can be provided to any person in need. In line with this objective, Part V of the Plan enables the provinces, at their option, to cease accepting applications for old age assistance and for blind and disabled persons allowances and begin assisting the aged, the blind and the disabled through general assistance programs. Persons who have already qualified for allowances under these programs can be transferred to a general assistance program if they will qualify for comparable or greater benefits under that program. Saskatchewan ceased to accept applications for categorical allowances on April 1, 1966 and transferred major portions of its existing caseloads to the Saskatchewan Assistance Plan. Ontario took a similar step with effect from April 1, 1967 and transferred a major portion of its caseload to the Family Benefits program. Alberta ceased accepting applications under the categorical programs on January 1, 1968. Newfoundland ceased to accept applications for old age assistance and disabled persons allowances on December 31, 1967, and June 30, 1967, respectively, and, where possible, transferred recipients to general assistance. In Prince Edward Island, applications for old age assistance ceased to be accepted on April 1, 1967 and applications for disabled persons allowances on May 1, 1967. Part of the caseload under both programs was transferred to general assistance.

Provisions of Agreements under the Plan

In entering Agreements under the Plan, provinces have undertaken to meet a number of criteria that are called for in the legislation. They have agreed to the use of a needs test in determining eligibility for assistance and to provide assistance to any person in need in an amount or manner that takes into account his basic requirements, that is, food, shelter, clothing, fuel, utilities, household supplies and personal requirements. The needs test, which is basically a budget-deficit approach to determining eligibility for, and the amount of assistance to be provided, takes into account the budgetary requirements of the applicant as well as the income and resources he has available to meet them. The provinces have agreed not to require a period of residence within their boundaries as a condition of eligibility for assistance. They have also undertaken to provide in their law a procedure for appeals from decisions respecting applications for assistance or the granting of assistance, and to provide for an adequate method by which that procedure will be brought to the attention of applicants for assistance or recipients of assistance.

In recognition of the preventive and rehabilitative emphasis of the Plan, the provinces have undertaken to continue, as may be necessary and expedient, the development and extension of welfare services.

Description of Provincial and Municipal Programs

The Canada Assistance Plan sets broad conditions under which the costs of assistance and welfare services can be shared. Within this general framework, however, contributions can be made toward costs of programs that are developed and administered in the manner best suited to individual provincial circumstances and preferences. Brief descriptions of the programs for which costs are shared in each province are given in Appendix "A", attached, together with a resume of significant developments that took place in the provinces during 1967-68. The Appendix describes the programs as they stood at the end of the fiscal year.
 

ADMINISTRATION OF THE PLAN

The program is administered by the Canada Assistance Plan Division in the Welfare Assistance and Services Branch. This Division is also responsible for administering the unemployment assistance program and the old age assistance and blind and disabled persons allowances programs. The Division consists of administrative and consultative staff at headquarters and field staff located in nine of the provinces.

Canada has undertaken, in Agreements with the provinces, to provide consultative services, where feasible, and as requested, in areas related to the development and operation of assistance and welfare services programs. At the end of the year consultative services were available in relation to Indian Welfare, institutional care, accounting and auditing, public assistance standards, family and child welfare, community development, and staff training and development.

The field staff of the Division is responsible for carrying out administrative reviews in the field to determine the shareability of costs and for processing reimbursement claims. Field representatives are also responsible for maintaining liaison with provincial officials by advising them on interpretation of federal legislation and policies and assisting them in the preparation of claims. They also maintain contact with the Audit Services Branch which is responsible for an annual financial audit of the program.

As a result of the signing of Agreements under Part I with all provinces the main emphasis in administration was on the implementation of these Agreements especially in the areas of child welfare, health care, and welfare services, which had not been covered under the Unemployment Assistance Act. Discussions were held with provincial authorities about welfare statistics and the development of Agreements under Parts II and III of the Plan which relate to Indian Welfare and Work Activity, respectively.

Expenditures for Assistance and Welfare Services

During the year the federal government paid out $225.6 million to the provinces towards the cost of assistance granted.
 

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