The impact of social welfare reform and workfare on lone-parent female headed households in the Niagara Region
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This thesis explores the impact of recent social welfare reforms on the lives of social assistance recipients. The focus is on single mothers who are dependent on social assistance in a small city in southern Ontario. This detailed examination is complemented with existing case studies in Canada, the United States and New Zealand, as well as aggregate data on poverty in Canada. Participants for the research study were recruited by flyer distribution and referral. Following recruitment, selected participants were scheduled for a tape- recorded interview. The final sample population consists of eight single mothers on social assistance and/or workfare participants. This information is supplemented with interviews from two Ontario Works caseworkers and two Women's Advocates from a local crisis housing organization. This research project is guided by a socialist feminist framework. Evidence from interview participants suggest that single mothers continue to struggle in terms of meeting basic needs, such as food, clothing and medications. Housing for low-income families is a concern expressed by the participants as well as by Women's Advocates who operate within the region. In addition, subsidized housing continues to be problematic in terms of both safety and availability. Recent social welfare refonns (reductions in welfare income and introduction of workfare features) have intensified the economic and social marginalization of these women. Participants, for example, voice concerns about valuing self-evaluation in their Ontario Works and workfare activities. Considerable evidence from interview participants suggest that single mothers remain economically marginalized.