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Past And Present Social Welfare Systems Social Work Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Social Work
Wordcount: 1834 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Since the establishment of the social welfare system, governments and administrations have endeavored to provide for those who are incapable to be self-sufficient. During feudal times, many had conservative opinions about the poor stating that they were contemptible and indolent, but eventually society began to progress towards social reform and came to realization why the poor were in such meager circumstances. Social welfare does not provide a permanent way of a new chance in life, but instead a sense of direction and help to find that path. In the past, welfare systems were often frowned upon as many had differentd views of who should use it and how it should be used. Individuals earning high incomes were often in opposition to the idea of welfare, where as individuals earning low income were in favor as they were receiving aid at the expense of parishes, tax payers, and government. These indifferences between people resulted in changes of the social welfare system on an ongoing basis and often faced criticism through both sides of the political scale. Such changes in the social welfare system still exist today as not everyone is fully satisfied with the services it provides.

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In the past social welfare systems were consistently changing to meet the demands of the poor and to control poverty. Since welfare was not always perfect, the continuous changes in the system introduced new ways to meet the demands of the poor. Social welfare; however, was not limited to the needs of the poor, but offered other benefits as well for many struggling individuals. For example, health care was introduced for those unable to afford medical treatment, universal child allowance for working parents, and pension plans for the old. The expansion of the social welfare system provided aid to a broad range of individuals. Presently, social welfare systems continue to experience change to meet the demands of every individual in need, using collaborations of existing and new programs.

During Britain’s industrialization period, the number of poor was escalating despite the increase in employment, government growth, and businesses. This was due to the fact that wages were too low for any individual to be able to support their family. After the Speenhamland came into effect, minimum wages were introduced which established basic needs such as food and family requirements; however, due to the increasing gap between the rich and poor, minimum wage was often disagreed upon in parliament. In these times, while social welfare was still establishing ways to aid the poor through parishes, charitable contributions, and government aid, the rich still did not believe in assisting those who were poor. In today’s society, aid is still provided, but through much broader mediums. Governments have established assistance for poor people in Canada by creating reduced tax burden laws, social programs to assist low-income people in Canada, and low-income support given every month to alleviate poverty.

Throughout the difficult pecuniary times, those found begging were sent to workhouses, and the children of the poor were sent to foster families as forms of financial support. Children over eight years of age were considered viable for factory work and thus were sent to factories or to apprentices as salesmen. These children were confronted to abuse and molestation and were endorsed to work until early adulthood. As new laws and regulations came into effect to decrease poverty and control the spread of poverty, age requirements for when a child could work was introduced, but child labor still remained evident in the future years. Now children are legally not permitted to work less than 15 years of age and have the liberty of choosing to work. This provides a much better solution as children can tradeoff work for education and yield high opportunity costs in the future as investing in education can lead to a rewarding future.

Although the Speenhamland act brought the introduction of minimum wage and marked a change in the Social welfare system of Britain, the number of the deprived continued to rise. Usually parishes would not mind taking in the poor, however, the rise in the poor created great financial distress. Hence, the Principle of Less eligibility was created providing that relief to the poor was less than minimum wage (Speenhamland act). This act certainly did lower the cost of relief to the poor; however, it directed them towards workhouses in which the poor would rather continue to beg than be worked under harsh and degrading circumstances. As inefficient the social welfare system was, government involvement with the poor was increasing as they were consistently trying to eradicate the spread of the “poor epidemic”. Today, government systems are much more efficient and effective compared to the past. Workhouse type environments do not exist, enrolling into government aid programs is completely the poor’s decision, and most importantly the poor are never forced by the government to articipate in the programs they do not wish to be involved in. Social housing programs exist where the homeless have the opportunity to live in suitable living conditions, which prevents them from living on the streets and potentially avoiding harm from thieves. Giving the homeless a roof over their head gives them less to worry about in their life and gives them a foundation to start their lives once again.

Despite the fact that begging became an alternative technique towards proving income for families, the poor were still unemployed and did not provide sufficient income to support those dependent on them. As stated before, parishes were the dominant source of relief for those who were not self-sufficient because they provided the poor with the necessities to give them the opportunity to get on their feet. Similarly today, to help those unemployed or those who have been sent home permanently from work, the Canadian government has established numerous welfare programs to support the workers and their families. Such programs include Employment Insurance Family Supplement where workers who have been laid off receive benefits for their families and children. The government also assists in paying tuition fees for those who choose to continue their education.

In the past, financial help was not provided to those who were struck by sudden illnesses and deaths. The Black Death was one of the deadliest pandemics that wiped out 60% of the population of Europe, with the working class being hit the hardest. Those that survived the pandemic were left in futile states, unable to work and support for themselves and their families. Governments started to classify the poor has “deserving” and “not deserving”, helping only those who were “deserving”. In current circumstances, if a worker is experienced to a sudden illness, benefits are given to the family to help pay for medical expenses and expenses that the worker would normally cover. In case of sudden death, family’s can receive death-loss benefits from the government and even from their insurance companies if they hold an existing policy.

Workers who could not find jobs often left for the city in hopes for possible sources of income. Immigrating to the new city, workers and employers were unknown to each other, and given that the wages were extremely low, employers did not care about the financial situations of their workers. Reprehensibly, such treatment of workers and trust issues still exist today. Immigrant workers are often worked to their potential, with minimal recognition of their work and of course minimum wages that obviously is not enough to support their families back home. The Canadian social welfare is not as beneficial for new immigrants as it is for permanent Canadian residence.

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During the early development of the healthcare system in Canada, hospitals were generally institutions that helped care for the poor; where as other people were often taken care of at home. The costs of health care were funded by municipalities, government support and of course individuals, but proposals for national health insurance programs were often disregarded in its early stages. At the time of its initial introduction, many Canadians viewed healthcare in comparison to socialism and communism as many were committed to ideas of individualism. These views prevailed until the affects of the 1930`s that left many workers unemployed, who could not afford to visit physicians and pay for their medicines. This forced the government to be more involved and create more medical institutions to aid the helpless. Thus, more money was spent towards creating better healthcare systems, building new hospital infrastructures, and investing in medical research. Today, Canada is enriched with enhanced medical research facilities, renowned medical equipment, and some of the best doctors in the world. Despite the nations success, Canada`s healthcare system is far from perfect as not everyone is satisfied with the services they are encountered to. Patients experience long waits to get treated by specialists, receive ridiculous totals on bills for prescription drugs that is needed to survive, and undergo useless diagnostic tests that waste the tax payers money. Even though Canada`s healthcare is ranked as one of the top in the world, efficiency of the system is always doubted: there is no use of the healthcare if the people in need do not receive medical attention on time and correctly.

It is clear that Social welfare in Canada has experienced numerous changes that favor the poor since it`s early development of the system. There will always be those who oppose against the system and those who agree depending on what the social welfare system has to offer. Individuals who are well off on their own see no use for the system and often are against it as it provides no benefit to their wellbeing; however those who are not self-sufficient do need the support that the system has to offer and often hold strong values in keeping the system intact. It is through these dilemmas that social welfare systems are frequently changing so that they are able to satisfy both parties. Nevertheless, Canada`s social welfare system continues to be improving since its initial creation in the 1300`s. From starting as a way of supporting and providing benefits to the poor, to establishing aid programs, and to providing universal healthcare to all of Canada, social welfare will continue to play a significant role throughout the lives of Canadians as everyone will be influenced by the changes in the system.





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