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Public assistance policy : a review of contemporary legislation and practice in British Columbia Jackson, Douglas Lascelles

Abstract

The purpose of this study has been to review the development of public assistance in British Columbia; and to compare the present policies of (a) eligibility and determination of need, (b) assistance levels, and (c) service programs, in war Veterans’ Allowance, old Age Assistance, Blind Persons’ Allowance, Mothers’ Allowance and Social Allowance. Reference is made to American programs where a comparison of policies is helpful in clarifying Issues. On policy concerning such questions as residence, relatives’ responsibility, citizenship, assessment of resources, levels of assistance, and service programs, the policy Manual and the Acts and Regulations of the B.C. Social Welfare Branch are used as the basis for comparative analysis, interviews were held with authorities administering the programs and these were pursued in order to clarify apparent variation in policy between programs and administrative agencies. Information on the American programs was obtained through literature, correspondence; and a visit to one local office of the State Department of public Assistance, Washington. For the purpose of measuring levels of assistance, use is made of a standard budget developed in a previous Master of Social Work thesis. From this a monthly cost schedule is developed to suggest an up to date budgetary standard and to point up the evaluation of the adequacy of current public assistance allowances. Discrepancies between programs on such matters as exemptions and additional income are also examined. Service programs including the social and medical aspects are studied comparatively, and it is established that British Columbia is a leader in this respect. The more effective use of trained and untrained personnel in the social services appears to demand further research. The study leads to seven major suggestions; (a) abolition of local residence qualifications with appropriate financial arrangements; (b) standardization and liberalization of policies respecting assessment of resources and income; (c) use of the standard budget in establishing and meeting need; (d) use of a simplified budget - deficit method for determining grants; (e) more effective use of personnel in social services; (f) extended use of research in public assistance; (g) development of advisory - committee groups in public assistance.

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