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A regional study of social welfare measurements (No. 3: The metropolitan area) an exploration of the regional assessment of demographic and social welfare statistics for British Columbia, 1951-1961 Bartlett, Emerald Dorothy

Abstract

British Columbia is a large and complicated province and because of the differences in topography and settlement, it can best be analyzed on a regional basis. This study of social welfare measurements in Metropolitan Vancouver, is the third in a series of regional assessments. The two regions so far examined are the agricultural area of the Fraser Valley, and one of the "Frontier" areas of the North. The Metropolis, obviously, has very different characteristics from both of them and is the most complex region of all. It has been undergoing a period of rapid population growth, and the development of suburban communities. At the present time, approximately one-half of the population of British Columbia lives in Metropolitan Vancouver. Metropolitan Vancouver is included in Region II of the Department of Social Welfare. However, some areas of Region II such as Powell River, which are not in the metropolitan context have been largely excluded from this analysis. Other areas, such as the Municipality of Surrey and the City of White Rock, have been included as they are populated by those for whom the urban centre has a large measure of social and economic significance. This "Region" of Metropolitan Vancouver coincides with sub-divisions C and D of Census Division 4, and thus obviates one of the major difficulties in undertaking a regional study: that census material boundaries and welfare regional boundaries do not coincide. Basic statistical data was compiled and computed from the Dominion Bureau of Statistics. Extensive use was made of 1961 data, and selective reference was made to 1951 data. Information was available for Metropolitan Vancouver in the detailed Census Tract Bulletin now prepared by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics for all major cities. To simplify analysis, these tracts have been summarized into "sectors". A series of indices was also worked out to reflect social and economic conditions which may have welfare implications. The welfare statistics were compiled primarily from the monthly reports of the Provincial Department of Social Welfare, for the years 1951 and 1961. However, in Metropolitan Vancouver there are also numerous private social agencies and a few major ones serving the family, and children have been chosen to examine more fully, the welfare services. Correlation of social and economic factors with the welfare pattern in the metropolitan area has been undertaken. "Sector" analysis, initiated in this study, has revealed differential welfare requirements. All districts use welfare services: the most prosperous, in which there are marginal income enclaves; and others, demonstrating the complex of social problems inherent in unplanned urban expansion. Difficulties encountered in this regional study highlight the need for standardization of Welfare Region and Census Division boundaries. Most essential for productive analysis of welfare statistics is the formulation of standard, operationally-defined categories of service for both public and private agencies; one critical distinction might be made between income-maintenance programmes and personal services. This is an initial exploratory study of Metropolitan Vancouver as a "Welfare Region". Even as this report is prepared the characteristics of the metropolitan area are changing. With one-half of the provincial population living in this "Region" further studies will be needed to provide adequate information for comprehensive, enduring planning for the welfare needs of the people who live in Metropolitan Vancouver.

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