Since 2000, I’ve worked for the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. I’m guessing some of you may not have heard of the organization, but any one of you might have benefited from the contributions it has made to building a more robust social safety net in Canada.
In the early 1990s when Paul Martin was Minister of Finance, he came to my boss, Ken Battle, to discuss ideas for tackling child poverty – a blight the Government of Canada had pledged to eradicate.
Ken and his colleague Sherri Torjman got busy helping government policy experts design the National Child Benefit, a supplement for low-income families. Justin Trudeau’s government recently replaced several children’s tax benefits and credits with the Canada Child Benefit (though it has so far failed to index the measure to the rate of inflation).
Since its founding 25 years ago, Caledon has continued to influence all levels of government about many social issues. Income security, disabilities, caregiving, Aboriginal education, poverty reduction and community development top the list.
In 2017, our Ottawa-based, five-person organization will be reconfigured to be more closely aligned with the work of our principal funder, located in Toronto. As we begin this year of change, Ken and Sherri are working to summarize the social policy legacy they have built up in order that it effectively informs the next generation of Canadian social policy makers. This blog series will offer me a space for exploring how social media is being used to advance ideas and ideals espoused by organizations like Caledon.
“Social programs have helped define this country. It is social programs that embody the values of a civil society – one in which people care for and about each other. It is social programs that civilize capitalism.”
Lest We Forget: Why Canada Needs Strong Social Programs, Ken Battle and Sherri Torjman, November 1995.