From Welfare To Workfare

Powerful Essays
From Welfare to Workfare

There's an old joke that goes something like... Where do you hide a

welfare recipient's cheque, where he'll never find it? Under his work boots.

When Mike Harris was campaigning for the Progressive conservative party in 1994

he promised a "common sense revolution". This mixed with the huge unpopularity

of Bob Ray's policies, made him a favourite for the upcoming election. With

this new "common sense revolution", came Ontario Works, or workfare. (a program

designed to help recipients find their cheques) The workfare topic was a huge

issue to voters, and will effect not only the thousands of Ontario welfare

recipients but every Ontarioan in one way or another. When the election was

close, Mike Harris often called workfare his "hand up" on the other candidates,

(Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Nov. 17, 1995, 846), arguing that the current

welfare system is just "hand outs".

The decision on behalf of the conservative party to introduce Ontario

Works in Ontario is an interesting one, with respect to traditional, and modern

day Conservative party beliefs. This issue will be discussed in depth further

into the essay, but much research and (case) study went into the prospects of

workfare by the Tories.

To better understand workfare, one must understand the basics and

reasoning of welfare. John Romanyshyn wrote "Free men living in a community of

free and equal men is the democratic ideal", (Armitage, 59) which describes the

ideals of welfare. Welfare is a liberal and/or democratic program and policy

and is intended to allow equal opportunities of success to all. Other welfare

goals include giving temporary assistance for people who are living below the

poverty line and are basically implemented by using the insurance principle: pay

premiums when you're able in order to reap benefits when you are unable.

These are principles consistent with the liberal democracy point of view.

Nowhere does welfare help the community or society. (Conservative beliefs)

Welfare should help people in their time of need until they get back on their

feet. This was becoming less and less the case in the late eighties and early

nineties, when welfare abuse became such a major issue. According to the

Progressive Conservatives, this gave way to workfare.


As ea...

... middle of paper ...

...wers and more will soon be answered after the results are in from the

first wave of welfare reform in Ontario.


Armitage, Andrew. (1988). Social Welfare in Canada. Toronto: McClelland &

Stewart Inc.

Canadian Council on Social Development. (1975). Social Services in Canada: An

Introduction. Ottawa. The Canadian Council on Social

Development press.

Crane, John. (1994). Directions for Social Welfare in Canada. D.W. Frieson &


Hansard. Ontario Legislative Assembly of Ontario. (1995-1996). Office of the

hansard. (various dates specified in essay)

C. McCormack (personal communication, Nov. 7, 1996)

...Workfare Watch News ("CCPA Monitor," July/August 1996)

...Backgrounder ("Community of Social Services home page",

"", Queen's Printer for Ontario, 1996)

Henderson, Gord (Apr. 9, 1996) Give Tories' workfare plan a chance in Ontario.

Windsor Star.

...Ontario Works makes ("Community of Social Services home page", "http://www.

gov. on. ca", 1996)

Workfare Watch ("bulletin posted on Internet", "www. worldchat. com/ public/

tab/ wrkfrw/ bul1.htm") (various dates specified in essay)
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