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 CONCLUSION 8 WORKS CITED
"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. 1966.)
Ontario Works policy direction taken by the Ontario Progressive Conservative Government
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 workfare.
recipients will be required to work, or volunteer, seventeen hours...
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