Canada’s Social Welfare State

Social Welfare was first introduced in 1938 right before the Second World War. This concept came to the people as controversial. Some were opposed to the idea and others saw it as an improvement to the system. Security and Prosperity before social welfare were both problems in Canada. Even though social welfare was a debatable concept then, it is one of the most important things in our lives today. Our standard of living and economy would be greatly altered without it. Social Welfare represents one of the most important values the Canadian society is built on.

To understand the reasoning for social welfare you need to know of the problems that were occurring in World. After the First World War and the great depression more and more problems started to build up. Many issues in the economy were becoming increasingly worse. As we tried to bring back the gold standard which had been dropped by many nations before World War 1 for military purposes, it didn’t go well and currency was devalued to almost nothing. Deflation and the 1929 stock market crash were no help to currency being devalued. High loss of lives, land, and economic structure in the war caused multiple issues from almost no health care support for disabled war vets to war vets not being able to find any form of labour or job. The economy in Canada was spiraling down as a result. We had to find some way of bringing the economy and our standard of life back up to speed. So the idea of social welfare became increasingly popular. It was a democratic system that is there to insure the stability, security, and prosperity in our daily lives. Although as the idea was introduced not everyone was too excited about it.

There also were two main reactions to social welfare. The first side was the opposing side. A significant amount of people protested on specific morals saying things like “the security is the same as one you would get in a jail.” Some people saw it as a communist conspiracy because of its similarities to “the trickle effect”. The arguments ranged from how the government is babying us with slavery handouts to how the taxes are too high and blocking a real amount of income. “We will lose integrity and initiative as a nation and rely too much on the system” said a protester. This side of the people believed you cannot order motives to help the fellow man. Mercy cannot be institutionalised and the best of human motives will be destroyed through this government planning. The people who were not opposing and liked the idea of knowing they have pensions, insurance, and security to rely on were what over powered the negative views allowing social welfare to take its place in modern times today. The welcoming side was what supported and assisted to create our current social welfare policies today. They saw the huge taxes as a way of helping other people and when you need support it is there for you too. They saw the way this would help us use facilities better, financing needs will be met, and our standard of living and economy will become more sustainable. Less people will fall below the average.

I have many reasons to believe that the social welfare state was improving in the 1950’s and was making positive changes to Canada’s economy. Through my own research and primary sources I have found there were flaws in the system as the opposing side pointed out but as we used social welfare more and more in the public sectors we learned how to fix those problems for equality and the purpose of a better democratic nation. Some of my “artifacts” from my primary sources were documents that clearly showed ways social welfare was benefiting us in the 1950’s. The two documents I have for example are a form that you must sign off for free health care (paid by your taxes) with its conditions and policies. The other is an informative legislation to insure the equality of women in the workplace alongside men. In each document certain policies, laws, and agreements are clearly stated to be met. In any public sector that provides social welfare you are eligible for their services as long as you follow through on your responsibilities for each of the policies. It can be difficult to manage Medicare, workman compensation, social security, pensions etc. Although it’s the service they provide you with that will allow you to live in comfort of security and prosperity.

Security and prosperity are the foundation of society and civilization in Canada today. Social welfare is a fine example of security and prosperity in action. It created a basis in the 1950’s when it started to work its way into the public sectors and now where everyone can benefit from its resources. This basis is extremely important to every aspect of Canada. We live in safety with social welfare and although controversial at times it gets increasingly better each year.


From the years 1946 – 1963, prosperity and security were two things that were highly wanted amongst the Canadian war veterans. To them, prosperity meant the opportunity to have an education, continue with school after coming back from serving in the war, and being well-off financially. Economically speaking, to the war vets; security meant having a stable career where you were protected and the ability to return to your old job. Social welfare is the economic assistance from the government provided to people in need of it. As far as the pamphlets indicate, Canadian war veterans had the potential to enjoy prosperity and security during the Cold War. Canada’s re-establishment program promised to provide them with the essentials: Job security, education and training, and health treatment. 

“There are social security provisions, especially for those in the forces, and there is assurance for veterans that when a helping hand is needed, it will be available.” For starters, job security was the most important to the war veterans and the re-establishment program was eager to help them out. Men and women played vital roles in serving for their country. During the war, women undertook many essential duties. They became tank drivers, factory workers, ambulance drivers, and nurses. When women returned home, they would go back to being housewives therefore, a sense of recognition was wanted by them. Due to the fact, that only men were able to work, women wanted to make sure that their husbands would have a job that would provide the family with income.  Furthermore, the men wanted to be guaranteed that they would have a job when they were discharged. It was important for the majority of soldiers that they could return to their former jobs. In the pamphlet, it was stated that, “If your boy or girl held a civilian position before enlisting and was not engaged to replace somebody already in the forces, and if the position still exists and your boy or girl is capable of filling it, it is the employer’s duty under the law of Canada to reinstate him or her in that position with seniority.”Not only did Canada’s re-establishment program wish to assure the veterans, they also wanted to comfort the parents that their children would have great post-war opportunities provided to them. This quite frankly justifies that the purpose of this pamphlet was to allow the families of the war veteran not to have to worry about how their son or daughter would adjust when discharged from the war. Moreover, there were social security measures being provided for the veterans. If you were ill or did not have a job 18 months after being discharged from the war, allowances were provided. The factors mentioned above were all promises to the war veterans in order to prove to them that the re-establishment program was doing their best to help out. 

Further, being prosperous for the war veterans meant having an education and the opportunity to train for one, after discharge.“Canada has given wide opportunity for training to all who have served.” First of all, some of the people went to serve in the war at a young age therefore preventing them from finishing their schooling. Also, people that had occupations prior to the war, might have forgotten some of the skills required to do their job. For both cases, the Canadian re-establishment program ensured them that they would be able to continue with their further education and careers. Not only would training and education have benefited the war vets, but it also would’ve been an advantage for the government. The government wanted to make productive citizens. Productive citizens in the country would result to a better economy because more people would be working. Since you needed to be skilled in your field of labour, you needed training. Hence why the re-establishment program worked hard to make the training and education concrete and durable. In continuation, educational training was available for veterans that were accepted into university fifteen months after being discharged. There was an option also available for post graduate students. If you were one that had graduated and got into the workforce at the same time as you were enlisted into the war, you had the opportunity to proceed with your education one year after discharge. The extent to which education and training was provided for the ex-service man and woman was great. Surely enough, these promises must have been very thriving for them. 

Finally, treatment and pension policies came along with being prosperous and secure during the Cold War. We have to understand that people that went into the war were fully aware that there was a chance of them coming back with a certain physical disability, illness or in worst case scenarios, not coming back at all. This being the situation, Canada’s re-establishment program had taken this into great consideration when forming the treatment and pension policy. It was a common issue that the veterans would form Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after discharge. Serving in the war wasn’t easy at all. The veterans witnessed many casualties as well as they experienced many rough patches. In addition, men and women were able to receive free hospitalization if starting within a year after discharge. Also, if a person was suffering from a certain disability they were entitled to treatment anywhere out of their country. It was a given that the government was not providing the people with such pensions in order to just help them out. The government needed healthy and useful citizens in order to have many people in the workforce. If the veterans were productive and in a healthy state, they would be working which would result to a better economy. This was definitely something that the government yearned for. Further pension details included 900 dollars for a man, 300 dollars for his wife along with allowances provided for their children. They were very flexible and understanding when establishing eligibility. If a person wished to get a pension and the service accepted it, they had to go for a medical examination and determine the severity of the disability. The treatment and pension policy provided for the veterans was very satisfying, pleasing and gratifying. The Canadian government, specifically the Social Welfare re-establishment program, took many factors into consideration when forming the treatment and pension policies.

Canada’s re-establishment program did a phenomenal job at promising to provide the veterans with all the required rehabilitation necessities. Prior knowledge allows me to state that the process of rehabilitation is not easy, at all. There are many components that fall under coming back home, especially for the war veterans. They had to adjust and cope with many things which made the process much harder. The re-establishment program focused highly on what the veterans needed in order to adapt, adjust and feel comfortable after coming back from the war. Thus, they had the potential to enjoy prosperity and security between 1946 and 1963. Serving in the war is an extremely difficult task and experience, therefore they were promised to be provided with: Job security, training and education, and healthcare.


Social Welfare’s Effect on Prosperity and Security in Canada

Social Welfare was used by the Canadian Government to ensure prosperity and security in Canada through the Treatment and Pension Policy, the Veteran’s Land Act, the Vocational Training and Education Program, and the Job Placement Policy. These were implemented in order to ensure that the economy stay stable, and to keep war veterans off of the streets. Post World War 1, Canada fell into a deep depression because of the closing down of wartime industries, and the lack of jobs available for veterans. Many soldiers became angry, because they had just come back from fighting for four years for their country, to a life on the streets. The Canadian Government ensured a life of prosperity and security across Canada. Prosperity can be defined as success or accomplishment, which in the case of the Cold War Era in Canada means economic prosperity, or an economy that’s doing well, and continuing to do so. Security entails the assurance that you are under minimal risk, and don’t have to worry about threats from outside. This can be applied to Canada at this time by defining security as the knowledge that you can support your family even if you lose your job, and feeling safe in your own home. Social Welfare was a means to keep the economy stable, and to ensure prosperity and security in Canada.

Canada’s Treatment and Pension Policy was put into place to offer veterans a steady income while they gained financial stability, or to pay back veterans that had experienced critical illness or disability. Pension was offered to ensure that the veterans would slowly be able to work their way back into normal Canadian civil life. Payments were given to those with disabilities, depending on the severity. However, in the Policy, you can see that although they include both women and men, they only include the pension rates for the men, demonstrating bias and inequality (Canada’s Treatment and Pension Policy, 1942). This sexism was not uncommon for this time. This could be because of the higher amount of male disabled veterans, seeing as they were the ones on the front lines. Physical examinations had to be done in order to file for a pension from the Government, but if the assessment came back positive (indicating no disability), the veteran would still be able to make their claims and would be given a personal hearing. This made it easier to acquire “free” money, which could be one reason as to why so many people thought that pension was like a “handout,” shown in political comics at the time. Some Canadians thought that the handouts were too socialist and left wing, which was a frightening thought when there was huge tension building between the USA and the USSR. This thinking reflected the Cold War Era ideology, when the Canadian Government wanted more than anything to ease the transitions of old soldiers back into civilian life. It is historically significant, because for the first time, soldiers were finally being paid back for their services, unlike post WW1. This especially included payback for those who had experienced injuries and were angry about losing their quality of life due to it. The Treatment and Pension policy also became the foundation of our current Social Welfare policies, which includes pension for disabled civilians and their families. The only limitation on this piece of information is its lack of an additional opinion on the issue, which in turn only portrays the government’s perspective. Pension given to soldiers and disabled veterans was guided by Canada’s political ideology of easing people back into normal life, and encouraged economic prosperity.

The Veteran’s Land Act encouraged people to buy property and supported Canadians wanting to settle back down after fighting in the Second World War. This act would provide veterans with a bit of financial support while buying a new home. During this era, the Government was attempting to advertise the dream life of having a nice house in the country with a few kids and living a simple life, which they show is the blurb at the top. The act also helped to stabilize the economy, because more people would be paying for new homes (even though the Government was assisting them, they would still be circulating their money back into it). The target audience were the veterans who had experienced enough violence for a lifetime, and were seeking a quiet place to retire or settle down in. This goes along with the other pieces of information, continuing the idea of settling down and feeling secure. Unlike prior instances, many people were now buying homes which could later be beneficial for economic stability. It is given historical significance because suddenly, unlike years before, ex-soldiers could now afford to buy their own homes, and would have more children. This burst of children they had after settling down (baby boomers) would ensure prosperity for the future, and the pension and benefits they received would ensure security. Just as the information previously presented, this artifact only provides one side of the story. The Veteran’s Land Act encouraged prosperity and security to veterans who could now suddenly afford their own homes.

In order to increase the number of opportunities available to veterans, they were offered an easier way to gain an education or training through the Vocational and Educational Training Program. Veterans could be eligible for $60-80 a month depending on if they were single or not to get the training they needed in order to work (Vocational Training Program, 1942). Disabled workers would be given special consideration for obvious reasons, and many people would be trained right on the job. This would almost certainly secure a job for veterans. This is very significant, because after the First World War, veterans were given no special training, and therefore it would be very difficult to find a job opportunity. This source follows the same political ideologies as the previous ones, including easing back into normal life, and stabilizing the economy. Training or education made citizens of Canada feel secure, and was very prosperous for economic reasons. In this way, training and education opportunities helped to encourage a positive outlook on the future and rid Canadians of stress associated with job instability.

Lastly, Canada’s Job Placement Policy made sure that veterans would never be left jobless and that more money would be circulated into the economy. When more people have jobs, more people have money to buy goods and circle it back into the economy. This produced prosperity once again for Canadians, who were now given an opportunity to work a normal job after fighting a war, unlike the events during the Great Depression. The ideologies of the Cold War Era, as stated previously, was to encourage civilians to weave their way back into a normal life after the war, and giving them a job was perhaps the most important aspect of this. Canadians that had worked before the war could get their old jobs back, making it easier to fit back in. Unemployment insurance and social security measures were also taken, so that even if you had lost your job, you still had a means of income and contribution to the economy. People could now buy life insurance with their newfound money, providing families with financial compensation if a loved one that had worked had passed away. This encouraged security by offering money and jobs to the unemployed. Canada’s Job Placement Policy increased prosperity because of the rising amount of money circulating in the economy. It followed the same ideas as other Post-War Opportunities. Job Placement was a key factor in making veterans feel at home and gave them a chance to fall back into normal civil life.

In conclusion, the Canadian Government’s Pension, Re-establishment, Training, and Employment techniques ensured that Canada would once again become a prosperous country, where veterans would feel secure. All of these techniques followed the same ideology, which encouraged Canadians to fit back into society, and settle down in the country happily. They were also all opposed by the same idea, which was that the Government was offering “handouts” for the veterans, and that the ideas were too left-wing to be implemented properly. However, these did make sure that the economy was once again running well due to a high recirculation of money. It gave Canadians a feeling of security because they could now afford things they wanted, and had stable jobs with means of getting by if they lost them. Overall the only limitation placed on these sources was that they did not include certain dates, and did not include alternate perspectives, which had to be sought out afterwards. Social Welfare in Canada, although it was often argued to be too socialist, certainly helped on the pursuit of prosperity and security, and built a foundation of our own Social Welfare laws today.

Works Cited

“Canada’s Treatment and Pension Policy.” Canada’s Veterans – Post War Opportunities. The Government of Canada. 1942. 17 Mar 2013.

“Job Placement Policy.” Canada’s Veterans – Post War Opportunities. The Government of Canada. 1942. 17 Mar 2013.

“Veteran’s Land Act.” Canada’s Veterans – Post War Opportunities. The Government of Canada. 1942. 17 Mar 2013.

“Vocational Training Program.” Canada’s Veterans – Post War Opportunities. The Government of Canada. 1942. 17 Mar 2013.


What is prosperity and security? Is it owning your own house, or having an alarm system at the door? It’s neither. Prosperity and security is both being and feeling safe. It’s living in a society where you feel protected and where you feel as if you matter. Before the 1950s, prosperity and security did not exist. They came into being when Canada improved its social welfare. When the Canadian government finally shaped up and realized that it needed to actually both acknowledge and assist its country’s citizens, Canadians lived in at least some prosperity and security between the years 1946 and 1963 thanks to social welfare and what it brought (or at least promised) to its citizens: health care, unemployment insurance and pensions

Canadian health care protects you from the brunt (if not all) of the monetary expense that medical care costs. In these times, if you break your leg, you head to the hospital and get it fixed. In fact nowadays most people don’t even consider the financial aspect of the injury. It’s one of Canada’s trademarks, something that astounds the people of other countries. Can you believe it’s only been around for 67 years? Before then, people had to pay the full price for their medical care without any government help. This often forced people into debts that they could never quite overcome. It was a miracle when the government finally decided to create universal health care (actually only almost universal). They probably got the idea from the “farmers and local leaders [who] gathered around community halls in rural Saskatchewan to discuss the possibility of a much needed provincial insurance program [that would be] covering health and medical expenses.” (Tso, para. 1) As seen in the “Medical Services Card,” there were some limitations though. Firstly dental care was only applicable to those under 16, as well the person may only use their insurance if their physician was in their region and has signed a contract with the Regional Board. Yet, the benefits definitely outweigh the cons. Finally illness or injury doesn’t destroy a person’s life financially. The creation of Canada’s Health Care has without a doubt, allowed Canada’s people to achieve some prosperity and security.

Unemployment insurance was not just very much wanted, but very much needed, as in that time especially, it was very common to suddenly lose one’s job. As we know sometimes, people lose their jobs. Though most people immediately plunge into a frantic search for a new job they seldom find it as quickly as they need to. On average the time it took for an unemployed person to have found a new job was about 10 to 14 months (in the 1950s). That is a very long time to be living without a constant supply of money. Now imagine an unemployed man who has a wife and four kids depending on him; it was still not yet common for women to work outside of the home. Families needed a way to make sure they wouldn’t be either homeless or starving, and the only way besides having a stable job was through government assistance. Yet not everyone agreed with this idea. As seen in the “Don’t Make Him an Invalid” artifact, there were people who are making it seem as if these benefits are actually “crippling” the people of Canada. In the artifact we see a man who appears to be respectable; he’s well dressed (complete with a formal suit and shiny shoes) and he’s being offered crutches and canes. The funny thing is that the man is standing up perfectly fine and doesn’t appear to be in any pain. So why would he need a crutch or cane? The answer: he doesn’t. The creators of this artifact are trying to make the government’s aid unappealing. They are appealing to a person’s sense of pride. Nobody wants to be a cripple and by making the benefits like aids for a cripple they are encouraging people to not get the insurance. They are probably people who have stable high-paying jobs and are just unhappy about the increased taxes.

The veterans of Canada suddenly received government aid, as a means of gratitude for their service by the government; this was a turn in the right direction. “The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.” (Eisenhower, para. 20). War is the most terrible thing. It takes good, sane and patriotic people and turns them into mere shadows of who they once were. Soldiers saw terrible things and will probably never forget them. These people should be honored and respected. And for the most part they were. Their friends, family and even strangers showed them courtesy and patience. So why didn’t the government? How come it took the Canadian government two brutal wars to finally give back to their veterans? Surprisingly enough, Canada’s pension plan shows that the government does actual value its veterans! “Canada’s Treatment and Pension Policy” though created by the government does show some fair policies. Of course it also uses the opportunity to shamelessly self-advocate “Canada has recognized [the toll the war has taken on you, soldier] and its responsibility to those who suffer injury or illness.” Yet, this is where prosperity and security begins. When the weak and vulnerable (the war must have left some severe emotional trauma on the veterans) are receiving care and the government is showing support, then one can say that they are both prosperous and secure.

Though one’s definition of prosperity and security is probably different than someone else’s, the idea of being safe and being protected is mostly likely a key part of it. Thus, social welfare played a huge role in making sure that Canadians lived in some sort of prosperity and security to a certain extent. How could we have been secure and prosperous without health care, unemployment insurance, and pensions? Answer: we couldn’t.



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