Since its publication in 1980, The Emergence of Social Security in Canada has become a standard text in social work and related courses in post-secondary institutions across Canada. It is the first and most detailed history of Canadian social security from colonial times to the present. In this third edition, Dennis Guest has revised the previous chapters and has provided two new ones to update developments to 1997. This book analyzes the major influences shaping the Canadian welfare state. A central trend in Canadian social security over most of the twentieth century has been a shift from a `residual' to an `institutional' concept. The residual approach, which dominated until the Second World War, posited that the causes of poverty and joblessness were to be found within individuals and were best remedied by personal initiative and reliance on the private market. However, the dramatic changes brought about by the Great Depression and the Second World War resulted in the rise of an institutional approach to social security. Poverty and joblessness began to be viewed as the results of systemic failure, and the public began to demand that governments take action to establish front-rank institutions guaranteeing a level of protection against the common risks to livelihood. Thus, the foundations of the Canadian welfare state were established. However, burgeoning government debt in the 1980s revived the residual approach to social policy. Governments at all levels in the 1980s and 1990s have dismantled or diminished several key structures of Canada's social security system and threaten the remainder. The Emergence of Social Security in Canada is both an important historical resource and an engrossing tale in its own right, and it will be of great interest to anyone concerned about Canadian social policy.
Dennis Guest, now retired, was for many years a professor in the School of Social Work at the University of British Columbia.