The view From within: Toward a social critique of Nova Scotia’s retreating welfare state
LE3 .A278 2014
Powers, Ann Marie
Master of Arts
Over the past 20 years in Nova Scotia, the number of people on Income Assistance (welfare) has fallen dramatically and the rates have declined in real dollars. The explicit policy goal of the Department of Community Services is to support and encourage —often through punitive measures—social assistance recipients to enter or re-enter the workforce as quickly as possible. The deleterious effects of this ‘work-first’ approach have been subject to extensive quantitative and qualitative study in many jurisdictions across Canada and the USA. This new approach to social assistance is contiguous with the changes in the labour market in Nova Scotia, which has seen average wages and job security decline, while profits and income inequality rise. Absent, is a coherent social critique to this neo-liberalization of employment and unemployment. Without critique--without a means to comprehend and collectively combat the social basis of individual suffering--individuals are left with inadequate individual solutions to socially created problems. The purpose of this study is to listen carefully to the critical insights for reform articulated by some citizens of rural Nova Scotia who have extensive experience as Income Assistance clients of the Department of Community Services. The goal is to contribute to the creation of a new social critique rooted in the insights and experience of the most socially excluded citizens of rural Nova Scotia.
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