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An evaluation of the Mothers' Allowances programme in British Columbia Rasmussen, Wilfred

Abstract

This study reviews the historical background of Mothers' Allowances in British Columbia. The main emphasis, however, has been on the present organization of this programme and how it serves the client. The programme has been in operation in British Columbia since 1920, and has served numerous families throughout the years without an evaluation being made to determine how it was serving the public. This study, therefore, analyzes various aspects of this programme and seeks to appraise its place in the welfare field. The historical background of the programme was covered by examining reports, articles and specific books written on the subject. A number of persons were also interviewed. Material relating to Mothers' Allowances, as this programme is administered at present, was obtained through interviews, reports and articles. For illustrative material, a number of mothers' allowances cases and others were studied. The review of the Mothers' Allowances Programme reveals a number of weaknesses. (1) The eligibility regulations which are too rigid, exclude too many needy families. (2) Judged by reasonable standards for long term maintenance, the allowances granted to families are almost universally inadequate. (3) No help is given to clients to meet their housing needs. As a result, many families are forced to live in crowded and inadequate quarters. (4) Mothers’ Allowances cases get less casework service than persons on Social Assistance. (5) The authority for granting allowances to clients should be more decentralized. The Mothers' Allowances provide a measure of assistance to families which they would not otherwise have. It is comparable to Social Assistance in this regard, but the study reveals that, if the Mothers' Allowances Programme is to continue, the Act and its regulations have to be amended and made equal to or better than the Social Assistance requirements. There is a need for the Federal Government to assist financially in this field. If development followed the lines of the Social Security Report by Dr. L. C. Marsh, the Mothers' Allowances programmes in Canada could be repealed, since widows in need would be covered by Survivors' Insurance. Mothers with children not covered by Survivors' Insurance would be assisted by a reformed system of social assistance. The recommendation of the present study is that the Mothers' Allowances Programme in British Columbia, if not improved considerably, should be abolished in favour of social assistance for all those in need.

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