British Journal of Canadian Studies

Dual restructuring: civil society and the welfare state in Canada, 1985-2005

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2012), 25, (2), 161–180.

Abstract

Beginning in 1985 the Government of Canada significantly restructured and retrenched the welfare state, relatively undeterred by public or organised opposition. The ability of Canadian civil society organisations (CSOs) to influence the outcomes of reform was minimal at the best of times, and has diminished over time. In part, this stems from the underlying fragility of Canadian CSOs, even in their most activist period. Over the past three decades, political representation within the Canadian social policy community has itself been dramatically restructured, reshaped by both government and from within, exposing this underlying fragility. With less resistance from civil society and fewer sources of fresh ideas, the federal government was able to steer a course of retrenchment of the welfare state. This article analyses these changing patterns of representation and welfare state restructuring in Canada through major periods of realignments from 1985 to 2005, speculating on the future of the ‘new politics’ of the welfare state.

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Phillips, Susan