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A regional study of social welfare measurements (No. 2 : The Fraser Valley) : an exploration of the regional assessment of demographic and social welfare statistics for British Columbia, 1951-1961. Bledsoe, Margaret Yolande

Abstract

"Regions" and regional development are accepted in British Columbia but there is no co-ordination of the regional boundaries for education, health, welfare, census enumeration, and technical survey districts. The available basic social and welfare data for some regions (in this instance, the Fraser Valley) have been compiled to indicate what these data will reveal about a region, as well as to indicate where there are gaps and discrepancies. Census materials for the years 1951 and 1961 are the main types of social data, supplemented by some compilations of the Lower Mainland Regional Planning Board because of its special relevance to this region. The monthly reports of the Provincial Department of Social Welfare, dealing with six main areas of social welfare service, are the source of the welfare data, and these are analyzed over a ten-year period. The Department of Social Welfare's regional boundary was accepted in this study as the official regional boundary for the Fraser Valley: Welfare Region VI. Where the census material available did not coincide with this regional boundary, appropriate adjustments were made. An examination of the social data shows clearly that this is an area undergoing rapid expansion, particularly in terms of urbanization and population increase. Forecasts indicate this will continue. The region itself now contains an urban portion, a portion in transition from rural to urban, and a rural portion. The area has examples of "urban sprawl" and the results of little physical or social planning. The welfare data indicate markedly higher rates of increase than the population increase. Examined together, both sets of data bring problems to light and suggest new areas for investigation. If homogeneity rather than availability of transportation or administrative convenience should be the objective of regional division, there are strong grounds for relating Surrey municipality to Greater Vancouver, which it is becoming increasingly a part, rather than to the agricultural domain of the Valley. The welfare data is currently measured primarily on the basis of numbers of "cases". Measurement by the number of persons and families served, analyzed along with the special characteristics of each, i.e., age, sex, education, employment history, family structure, and so on, would be more productive for planning, administration, and public information. Also, if these facts were available, they could be related directly to the social data to show which segments of the total population are using welfare services. A review of the present deployment of staff time seems to be indicated, raising the question of "maintenance" service versus a "rehabilitation" focus, and the important question of differentiation of types of cases, and, perhaps, of social work personnel. This is a beginning study of only one region. For clarification of the issues raised, and to determine the special as well as the common characteristics of this region, other regional analyses are needed, but these should become progressively easier.

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