Defending Social Programs for a Stronger Canada

What is the Canada Social Transfer?

The Canadian Social Transfer(CST)is the primary source of federal funding in Canada that supports provincial and territorial social programs. The Canadian Social Transfer funds many programs that are important to maintaining a good quality of life for all Canadians.  Without this source of federal funding, the provinces would be unable to provide essential programs for children, social services, and post secondary education.

Why is the Canada Social Transfer important?

The social determinants of healthencompass a broad range of social factors, including socio-economic status, early childhood education, and access to adequate housing, to name a few.  Moreover, income inequality is highly associated with the health of a nation.  Arguably, accountability of Canadian Social Transfer funding has the potential to have greater implications for the overall health and well-being of Canadians that the Canadian Health Transfer that has dominated all provincial and national discussions to this point.

Why does the Canadian Social Transfer need to change?

Canadian advocates of human rights and equitable public policy are increasingly concerned with accountability and have called for the government to introduce conditions and standards associated with the  Canadian Social Transfer to improve accountability and to ensure that Canadians, regardless of location, have equal access to adequate social programming. 

The current model of financing social programs in through the Canadian Social Transfer has many issues associated with it, the most prominent being an accountability crisis. There is a failure of accountability on many levels, and this must be addressed.

Where are we and where do we go from here?

With most provinces and territories adopting poverty reduction plans, it has become clear that Canada requires a national plan. The Government of Canada’s participation in a poverty reduction plan is essential given the billions transferred via the CST each year in support of the delivery of social and health services.

A national strategy would ensure that all Canadians, regardless of their age or where they live, would have equitable access to programs and services to support living with dignity and respect.

With the rules governing Canada’s equalization program and affordable housing agreements set to expire in 2014, the provincial, territorial and federal governments have opportunity to proactively address the growing income inequity gap in Canada.

The time has come for the provincial, territorial and federal governments to develop Principles of Accountability for investments in the social determinants health from the Canada Social Transfer.

It’s time to Defend our Social Programs for a Stronger Canada.