We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $131.99

384 pp.
12 tables; 39 figures; 12 photos, 7" x 9"


Copyright Year:

Imprint: OUP Canada

Social Policy in Canada

Second Edition

Ernie Lightman and Naomi Lightman

Social Policy in Canada is an important and timely examination of the past, present, and future of Canadian social policy. Organized around the premise that economic policy is a subset of social policy, this fully revised second edition provides a detailed exploration of how social benefits are allocated and explains the mechanisms and tools of income transfer and redistribution that are central to all aspects of social policy.

Readership : Upper-level undergraduate courses in social policy and social work practice in Social Work departments at universities and in some Social Service departments at colleges. Also suitable for related courses in Sociology, Public Policy, and Health Policy programs.


  • "I feel that [the text] marks a significant forward impetus for social workers in understanding the synergy of economic and social policy. We have viewed these strands in the past in singular context and I am seeing more clearly that we must be able to work with and understand both, weaving them together. Congratulations to the authors for work that I believe is innovative and will be of benefit."
    --Mary Pat Thompson, North Island College

  • "With this revision, Social Policy in Canada provides up-to-date coverage of key issues relevant to social policy formation, as well as policy responses and challenges. The book also provides a good background of historical circumstances and ideologies as well as the economic context within which Canadian social policy can be understood."
    --Peter Gabor, University of Calgary

Note: Each chapter includes:
- Introduction
- Chapter objectives
- Case studies
- Looking Ahead conclusion
- Discussion questions
- Suggested resources
- Notes
Part One: Introduction
1. Setting the Context
The Origins of Canada's Welfare State
Distribution and Redistribution
A Model of Redistribution
The Problems with Inequality
The Redistributive Cycle in Practice: Income Inequality in Canada
Taxes, Transfers, and Family Types
Gini Coefficients
Wealth and Income
Part Two: Approaches to Social Policy
2. The Rise and Decline of the Welfare State in Canada NEW
Why Did We Build Our Welfare State?
Why Did We Shrink Our Welfare State?
Towards a Balanced Budget and Beyond
Post-9/11: The Warfare State
The End of Altruism and Changing Values in Canada?
The Role of the Media
Federalism and Social Services in Canada
Indigenous Inequality in Canada
3. Defining Social Policy
Defining Social Policy
A Look at Social Policy and Economic Policy
Building a Definition: "Social" and "Policy"
Social Policy and Economic Policy
Issues Arising
Redistribution and Social Policy: The Goals
4. Social Policy and the Economic Market
The Economic Market in Social Policy: The "Best" Way to Provide
Level 1: The Individual
Level 2: The Family
Level 3: The Voluntary Sector/Communities/Faith Groups
Level 4: The State
Outside Neo-liberalism
Part Three: Allocating Benefits
5. Allocating Benefits: Privatization, Commercialization, and Alternate Service Delivery
The Reasons to Privatize
Forms of Privitization
Issues in Privatization
The Regulatory Dilemma
Welfare Pluralism
Final Thoughts on Privatization
6. Allocating Benefits: What?
Food Banks
Cash and In-Kind Benefits
Comparing Delivery Modes
Paternalism: "For Your Own Good"
Capacity and Substitute Decision-Makers
7. Allocating Benefits: To Whom?
The Universal/Selective Debate
Basic Income
A Look at Government Spending
Cash, In-Kind; Universal/Selective
Part Four: Generating Resources
8. Paying Through Taxes
Goals of Taxation
Two Principles of Taxation
Tax Revenues in Canada
Personal Income Taxes
Deductions, Exemptions, and Credits
Tax Expenditures in Canada
The Alternative Federal Budget
9. Fees, Charges, and Premiums
The Simple Microeconomics of Fees
The Reasons to Not Impose Fees
The Reasons to Impose Fees
Setting Fee Levels
Premiums and Social Insurance
10. Volunteers, Charities, and Gamblers
The Voluntary Sector in Canada
The Advantages of Using Volunteers and Charities
The Disadvantages of Using Volunteers and Charities
Charities and the Income Tax System
Advantages of Gambling as a Revenue Source
Disadvantages of Gambling as a Revenue Source
Part Five: Looking Ahead
11. Globalization NEW
Historical Perspective
The Financial Crisis of 2008
The Retraction against Globalization
Think Globally, Act Locally
Environmental Activism
Globalization and Migration: Freedom of Capital, Not Persons
Transnational Social Work
12. On to the Future
A Return to Keynes?
Policy Means Choice: Four Scenarios
A New Welfare Society?
Final Thoughts
Appendix 1: Comparative Data: How Does Canada Fare? NEW
Appendix 2: An Introduction to CANSIM BNEW
Appendix 3: Using CANSIM to Find and Analyze Data from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey NEW

E-Book (ISBN 9780199022144)

Ernie Lightman is an emeritus professor in the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. His scholarly research includes nearly a hundred refereed academic publications in a wide range of journals and reports as well as the first edition of Social Policy in Canada (OUP, 2003). Through the years, he has commented to the media on issues of social policy concern and in 1991-92 he was a one-person Commission under the Public Inquiries Act, looking into unregulated housing for vulnerable adults in Ontario. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of California, Berkley, and previously taught at the London School of Economics before taking up positions in Economics and, later, Social Work at the University of Toronto.

Naomi Lightman is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Calgary. Her areas of research include immigration, social policy, and social inequality. She has published in numerous academic journals including International Labour Review, International Migration Review, Critical Studies in Education, and Social Inclusion. Prior to her academic career, Naomi worked full time as a policy advisor and acting project lead at the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, giving her direct, applied experience with the policy-making and implementation process.

Anti-Oppressive Social Work - Gary C. Dumbrill and June Ying Yee
Skills for Human Service Practice - Agi O'Hara, Zita Weber and Kathy Levine
Working with People - Louise Harms and Joanna Pierce
Making Sense in the Social Sciences - Margot Northey, Lorne Tepperman and Patrizia Albanese

Special Features

  • Fully revised and updated to provide students with the latest developments in Canadian social policy, including new tables and figures to engage students with data and process.
  • Comprehensive overview of key issues including Canada's definition of and approach to social policy; who receives social and health services; how these services are financed; and the impact of globalization today.
  • Explores how policy choices impact real people, helping students understand the true impact of social policy.
New to this Edition
  • Two new chapters on the rise and decline of the welfare state in Canada (Ch. 2) and globalization (Ch. 11).
  • New appendices on how Canada compares to other countries in terms of inequality and providing government services (Appendix 1) and how to use Statistics Canada's CANSIM database to find socioeconomic data (Appendix 2) and to access data from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (Appendix 3).
  • Expanded coverage of key topics including neoliberalism, Indigenous inequality in Canada, the role of the media, think tanks, precarious work, the Harper years, and how Canada compares to other countries.
  • New pedagogical features in each chapter:
  • Case Study boxes provide further exploration of important topics.
  • Key Idea boxes highlight central concepts within each chapter.
  • Chapter objectives at the beginning of each chapter prepare students for the content to come.
  • End-of-chapter discussion questions help students think critically about the material.