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From Welfare to Workfare
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE ORIGINS OF WORKFARE 1
THE BASICS OF WORKFARE . 2
PC POLICY DIRECTION OF WORKFARE 2
WHY? A CONSERVATIVE POINT OF VIEW 4
WHY NOT? AN OPPOSITION\'S POINT OF VIEW 6
"THE ORIGINS OF "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.
"UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS OF WORKFARE"
As earlier stated, the subject of workfare was first introduced in the
1994 campaign of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. After the election
of Mike Harris and the PC party a committee was set up by the Minister of
Community and Social Services, the Honourable David Tsubouchi, comprised of
MPP\'s to study how the promised of workfare should be executed. Communities and
MPP\'s of all parties were encouraged to give their suggestions on how to better
implicate workfare. (Legislative Assembly of Ontario, March 28, 1996, pg.
Ontario Works policy direction taken by the Ontario Progressive
Workfare is intended to put "able-bodied welfare recipients to work in
exchange for their welfare benefits". (Legislative Assembly of Ontario, March
29, 1996, pg. 1650) Here are some main points of Ontario Works program:
• handicapped, elderly, injured, full time students, and single
parents with young children will be excluded from mandatory
• recipients will be required to work, or volunteer, seventeen
hours per week, in order to receive assistance.
• municipal social services will work directly with charity and
community organizations for volunteer and employment services.
The main intention of workfare is to help the welfare recipient become
self-sufficient and ultimately get him/her employment. The full plans were
introduced in the Ontario legislature on June 18, 1996 by the honourable David
Tsubouchi, when he discussed the three major ways that Ontario Works will be a
1) Contracting out job agencies: These agencies will be paid two
dollars up front to find the recipient a job. If employment
for the recipient is not found, the two hundred dollars must
be paid back. The agency can then receive two more payments;
one after three months employed, and one after six months
employed. The agency can only receive a maximum of twelve
hundred dollars per recipient.
2) Welfare recipient entrepreneurs: Many of the welfare recipients
today have bright ideas of starting their own businesses.
Ontario works will hook the recipients up with other agencies
specializing in entrepreneurship. If the recipient\'s business
is established, the agency will be paid accordingly.
View Full Essay
Welfare reform, Unfree labour, Public economics, Workfare, Common Sense Revolution, Mike Harris, Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, Ministry of Community and Social Services, Welfare, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, David Tsubouchi, Workfare in the United Kingdom
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