Canada's Welfare State Essay

1072 words - 5 pages

In my opinion, social programs are essential to the economic health of both citizens and the country as a whole. Programs such as public education and income support (ex. The GST/HST tax credit for low-income earners) serve as financial equalizers which allow for improved standards of living, and, as a result, increased economic activity. The reasoning behind this is that a more even distribution of wealth results in more consumer spending because money that would otherwise be held in the brokerage accounts of the upper class, for example, are instead used to fulfill the basic needs of the lower class. Additionally, programs such as public healthcare and employment insurance provide financial and psychological stability to citizens and helps to maintain a healthy economy. Although the system can be abused, it does not occur in a majority of cases and I would argue that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
There are many social welfare programs designed to provide income support for Canadians, mostly for those with little to no income. Some may criticize these programs as too generous or an incentive to be lazy, however, welfare rates are below the poverty line, and most of the people receiving benefits cannot find permanent employment or are disabled. In fact, 68% of food bank users receive some form of social assistance. Studies done at the University of Manitoba have shown that guaranteed income programs reduce hospital visits caused by work injuries, domestic violence, and mental health issues, which would save billions of dollars in healthcare and prison costs annually. Extending welfare to the bottom 10% of Canadian would cost approximately $10,000 per person (not taking into account savings in the healthcare system and other programs), a low price compared to the $60,000 or more required to take care of a prisoner. The cost of supplementary income programs such as employment insurance are small compared to the net effect it has on the overall economy, as it allows recipients to continue to spend money and retain property (ex. cars and houses).
The health care system in Canada makes up about 10% of the GDP. It provides millions, of high-quality, stable, recession-proof jobs. However, more importantly, it ensures that everyone is treated equally and receives quality medical care regardless of economic status. A public health system is beneficial to the economy because healthy people generally lead productive lives. Additionally, preventative measures provide social benefits, such as helping people to quit smoking and promoting un-impaired driving. However, many people experience long wait times and lack of access as a result of a shortage of both funding and doctors. Also, because it is based around hospitals, other essential areas, such as long term care may be lacking. This results in many inefficiencies, and as a result, Canada’s health care system is more expensive compared to other countries with universal health care. , ...

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