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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A regional study of social welfare measurements (no. 5: the Okanagan Region) : an exploration of the regional assessment of demographic and social welfare statistics for British Columbia, 1951-1961 Gelling, Sharon Patricia Thompson

Abstract

This examination of the Okanagan Region is the fifth in the series of regional analyses relating welfare measurements to comprehensive social data. Throughout the study there are comparisons made with two previous studies - the Fraser Valley (No. 2) and Metropolitan Vancouver (No. 3). The Okanagan Region, in contrast to the Fraser Valley and Vancouver areas, which are undergoing rapid population expansion plus urbanization, presents the picture of a largely rural and relatively stable area. The social data are compiled principally from the national censes of 1951 and 1961; the welfare material was collected from the monthly Field Service Reports of the Department of Social Welfare with some additions specially obtained; and both were analyzed particularly for a basic ten-year period. This information was supplemented by data gathered from several other sources within the Okanagan area. The Okanagan constitutes Welfare Region III as administered by the Department of Social Welfare. The Regional boundaries were given consideration in this study, and it is to be noted that common boundaries are accepted by the national census (Division Vl) and the recent Economic Atlas which has attempted to delineate regions for all of Canada. In conformity with these, it is recommended that the Kamloops district, which is neither geographically nor economically a true part of the Okanagan be excluded from the present Welfare Region III, while the Grand Forks area should be included. In any new standardization appropriate adjustments have been made in the welfare and census statistics. In the present study the social data reveals that the Okanagan is undergoing a comparatively slow rate of population growth but that in recent years, in line with marked trends in British Columbia generally, there has been increasing urbanization. A large segment of the population is elderly, a fact which has major welfare implications. Further study of needs and services appropriate for this group is recommended. Welfare measurements clearly show the trend towards high average caseloads, coupled with an abnormally high monthly mileage rate. A re-examination on a regional basis of the number of personnel, both professional and clerical, the distribution of tasks, and the deployment of time, is recommended. Each region is unique, requiring services adapted to the particular needs of the resident population. In this study it is proposed that a Central Regional Registry, much like the community social service index, be instituted. A record of services rendered as well as the service requests could be maintained by the welfare organizations in the region. Research utilizing material from the registry could make a considerable contribution to the planning of needed services in the Okanagan. (It is to be kept in mind that general physical planning, and also junior college planning, is proceeding on a regional basis in the area.) No doubt, changes in both needs and services have taken place since 1961. The present study has aimed at providing a foundation from which further studies of needs in welfare services and associated socio-economic factors, may be pursued in this characteristic section of the province.

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