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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

From Rights to Needs

A History of Family Allowances in Canada, 1929-92

This book explores the family allowance phenomenon from the idea’s debut in the House of Commons in 1929 to the program’s demise as a universal program under the Mulroney government in 1992. Although successive federal governments remained committed to its underlying principle of universality, party politics, bureaucracy, federal-provincial wrangling, and the shifting priorities of citizens eroded the rights-based approach to social security and replaced it with one based on need. In tracing the evolution of one social security program within a national perspective, From Rights to Needs sheds new light on how Canada’s welfare state and social policy has been transformed over the past half century.

380 pages

Table of Contents



1 The Dawning of a New Era in Social Security, 1929-43

2 Family Allowances Comes to Canada, 1943-45

3 The 1944 Family Allowances Debate and The Politics of It All

4 Sharing the Wealth: The Registration for Family Allowances Begins, 1945

5 The Impact of Family Allowance to the 1960s

6 Poverty, Politics, and Family Allowances, 1960-70

7 Family Allowances and Constitutional Change, 1968-72

8 Wrestling with Universality, 1972-83

9 The Demise of Family Allowances, 1984-99




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