Social safety net
The social safety net is a term used to describe a collection of services provided by the state or other institutions such as friendly societies, including welfare, unemployment benefit, universal healthcare, homeless shelters, and sometimes subsidized services such as public transport, which prevent individuals from falling into poverty beyond a certain level.
A practical example of how the safety net works would be a single mother with several children, unable to work. By receiving money from the government to support her children, along with universal health care and free education, she can give her children a better chance at becoming successful members of society, rather than be caught up in the hopelessness of extreme poverty.
Comparisons of systems are endless, and among the most common are the ones between Canada and the United States, due to their proximity. Supporters of a strong social safety net argue that these programs have resulted in a much lower crime rate and general lower poverty levels in Canadian cities, and this benefits everyone. Critics argue that the taxes required to support the safety net inhibit growth and actually increase the barriers for socio-economic advancement, and that the safety net itself creates a perverse incentive to be unproductive and poor.
A principal part of Canada's social safety net is its universal healthcare, known as Medicare, which was first proposed by Thomas Clement "Tommy" Douglas (called one of the "fathers of medicare"); in part for this, in 2004 Douglas was voted The Greatest Canadian for his achievements and contributions to Canada.
- Social insurance
- Social network
- Social security
- Social welfare provision
- Welfare (financial aid)
- Welfare state
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