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                  SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                           1
E X EC U T I V E S U M M A RY       • The Canada Emergency Re-
                                      sponse Benefit aims at pro-
                                      tecting the income of those
                                      groups that have been exclud-
                                      ed from the Unemployment
                                      Insurance. However, special
                                      attention should be paid that
                                      the criteria to have access to
                                      those benefits do not leave
                                      vulnerable people behind,
                                      such as people who had been
                                      unemployed before the crisis
                                      and were not covered by the
                                      Unemployment Insurance, or
                                      those people whose income
                                      was less that CAD $5,000 in
• Canada has responded exten- • For family benefits, in May an
  sively in the face of the sani-      additional sum will be sent to
  tary, financial and social crises    the beneficiaries of the Non-
  caused by the COVID-19 pan-          Contributive Federal Pro-
  demic.                               gramme Canada Child Bene-
                                       fit, which has a wide coverage
• For health, the goal is to adapt     and important effects on in-
  the system to continue pro-          come distribution.
  viding services, in addition to
  extending its diagnosis and • For Pensions for the Elderly,
  treatment capabilities for the       only the programmes opera-
  infected individuals.                tions were adapted to tailor
                                       the new conditions imposed
• A crucial component in the           by the emergency.
  response is the Inter-Govern-
  mental Coordination Plan cre- • For employment protection, ac-
  ated to address the 2004 In-         tions were aimed at subsidise
  fluenza Epidemic, which has          the salaries paid by companies.
  undergone constant updates.
                                     • Given the features of the
• The Federal Government cre-          structures created to protect
  ated an emergency benefit,           the income of the people in
  the Canada Emergency Re-             the different stages of life, the
  sponse Benefit, as to provide        group of people in working
  CA $2,000 every month, for           prime age is particularly vul-
  up to 4 months, to all those         nerable to the financial effects
  people who have lost their in-       resulting from the pandemic.
  come, because they are found
  in quarantine or sick, look after
  a relative or have lost their job.

                  SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                        2
SCENARIO                                                    However, the latter group ac-
                                                            counted for 95% of the deaths.
On January 25th, 2020 the first                             The Federal Government and
case of COVID-19 in Canada was                              Provincial and Territorial Gov-
confirmed, which was a person                               ernments      have    undertaken
who had traveled to the prov-                               measures to contain the number
ince of Wuhan, China. The num-                              of contagions of COVID-19 and
ber of reported cases experi-                               address the financial and social
enced a moderate growth until                               consequences of the epidemic.
late February, and exponential-                             Between January and Febru-
ly increased in the first week of                           ary, the Federal Government put
March. In spite of the number of                            surveillance actions in place at
new cases reported domestically                             international airports, and the
having decreased as of late, the                            closure of borders to all interna-
authorities say, until mid-May,                             tional travellers was decreed on
the country is yet to experience                            March 18th, except for the United
the peak in the number of cases.1                           States, the country with whom
                                                            essential trips are still allowed.3
As of May 14th, the authorities had                         Meanwhile, between March 16th
reported 72,536 confirmed cases                             and 22nd, the Provincial and Ter-
of COVID-19,out of which 1,050                              ritorial States undertook mea-
were new cases, 35,523 have al-                             sures to prevent contagions,
ready recovered, and 5,209 have                             mainly by closing non-essential
died. This means the mortality rate                         businesses and schools, in addi-
was of 7%.2 Three provinces ac-                             tion to banning big crowds.4
count for over 90% of the number
of contagions and deaths: Quebec
with 55% of the cases and 60.3%
of the deaths; Ontario, with 29.6%
and 33.7%, and Alberta, with 8.9%
and 2.3%, respectively. Converse-
ly, the province of Prince Edward
Island, the Northwestern Territo-
ries and Yukon cluster less than
1% of the contagions and deaths,
and Nunavut has not reported any
cases (see Map 1). From a sample
of 35, 568 cases with detailed de-
mographic information, 5% were
under 19 years old, 50% were be-
tween 20-59 years old, and 36%
was over 60 years old.
1       Government of Canada, “Epidemiological Sum-
mary of COVID-19 Cases in Canada”, 2020. Retrieved from     3       Government of Canada, “Coronavirus Disease     (COVID-19): Outbreak Outdate”, 2020. Retrieved from
ical-sum- mary-covid-19-cases.html#a2              public-health/services/dis-
2       Public Health Agency of Canada, “Coronavirus Dis-   eases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html
ease 2019 (COVID-19): Daily Epidemiology Update”, 2020.     4       National Post, “COVID-19 in Canada: What Each
Retrieved from           Province is Doing to Fight the Coronavirus Pandemic”, April
phac- aspc/documents/services/diseases/2019-nov-            5th, 2020. Retrieved from news/
el-coronavirus-infection/surv-covid19-epi-update-eng.pdf    canada/coVID-19-canada-coronavirus-provinces

                              SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                                          3
These actions have translated                              As shown by Chart 1, since March
into social and productive ac-                             there have been significant reduc-
tivities being put in halt, which                          tions in the number of employed
has brough about major effects                             people and labour market share.
on the Canadian economy: the                               However, the harshest effects
Manufacturing sector has seen                              took place in April. Moreover, be-
its sales plummet in 465 million                           tween February and April 2020,
dollars; tourism has also experi-                          around 3 million people lose
enced a reduction on the num-                              their jobs, out of which 172,000
ber of arrivals by foreign visitors                        ceased to take part in the labour
in around 60%,5 and the Energy                             market, either because they had
sector, in addition to seeing the                          to look after their households or
commercial war between Russia                              stopped looking for a job since
and Saudi Arabia, has seen its                             the great majority of businesses
activities suspended, which se-                            are closed, and 1,284,500 are un-
verely reduced the international                           employed, but still on the look-
demand of fuel.6 The week of                               out for a job. Furthermore, in the
April 20th-25th saw the lowest                             same period, 2.5 million people
historical levels in the price of                          saw their work schedule being
oil barrels, an important product                          cut down.7 In other words, the
in the Canadian economy.Sig-                               COVID-19 emergency has had a
nificant repercussions have also                           labour impact on around 5.5 mil-
been seen on the labour arena.                             lion people, which accounts for
                                                           29.5% of the labour force.

5       Statistics Canada, “Canadian Economic Dash-
board and COVID-19”, March 26th, 2020. Retrieved from
6       The Conference Board of Canada, “Provincial
Outlook Spring 2020-Preliminary Forecast. Canadian         7       Statistics Canada, “COVID-19 and the Labour
Overview”, April 15th, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.   Market in April 2020”, May 8th, 2020. Retrieved from         https://www150.
provincial-outlook/canadian-overview                       m2020034-eng.htm

                              SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                                    4
The most affected sectors have     Between 2010-2018, the annu-
been the Hospitality industry,     al growth average of the gross
with around 615,000 jobs lost      domestic product (GDP) was of
between February and April         2.2%, with a minimum of 0.7% in
2020; the Business industry, with  2016 and a maximum of 3.2% in
582,000 fewer jobs; the Con-       2013.10 Conversely, as a result of
struction industry, with 315,800;  the effects brought by the sani-
the Manufacturing industry, with   tary emergency, it is estimated
301,600; the Healthcare and        that the GDP for the first quar-
Social Welfare industry, with      ter of the year decreased in 5%
229,100; the Information, Cul-     at an annual rate, while the re-
tural and Recreational Services    duction for the second quarter
industry with almost 186,000.8     will be of 25%. Therefore, the
The loss of jobs has mainly taken  GDP growth rate for the entire
place in the provinces of Ontario  2020 will experience a decrease
(1,092,000), Quebec (820,500),     of 4.3%. However, a recovery of
British Columbia (396,500), and    6% is expected in 2021.11 One of
Alberta (260,900).9                the reasons why this recovery is
                                   expected is due to the Govern-
Concurrently, it is also neces- ment’s answer to the crisis.
sary to consider that the Cana-
dian economy has experienced a Before addressing this topic, a
moderate growth in the last years: brief description of some of the
                                   demographic, labour, socioeco-
                                   nomic and sanitary features is

8       Statistics Canada, “Employment by indus-
try, monthly, seasonally adjusted and unadjusted, and
trend-cycle, last 5 months (x 1,000)”, 2020. Retrieved
from https://
9       Statistics Canada, “Labour Force Characteris-
tics, monthly, seasonally adjusted and trend-cycle, last 5   10       Proprietary calculations based on the World Bank,
months”, 2020. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.        “Crecimiento del PIB (% annual)”, Data Bank, 2020. Re- tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1410028701&pic- kMem-        trieved from https://datos.
bers%5B0%5D=1.1&pickMember-s%5B1%5D=3.1&pickMem-             NY.GDP.MKTP. KD.ZG?locations=CA
bers%5B2%- 5D=4.1&pickMembers%5B3% 5D=5.1                    11       The Conference Board of Canada, “Provincial Out-
                                                             look…”, op. cit.

                               SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                                          5
                                                                    The most populated provinces
Population                                                          are Ontario (14.5 million people),
                                                                    Quebec (8.5 million people), Brit-
In 2019, Canada had 37,589,262                                      ish Columbia (5 million), and Al-
citizens, out of which 50.3% were                                   berta (4.3 million), while the three
women and 49.7% were men.12                                         territories happen to be the least
This population is at an advanced                                   populated, with around 40,000
age in life as the 65+-year age                                     people each, scattered around
bracket clusters 17.5% of the pop-                                  wide rural areas in the North.18
ulation, while the 0-14-year age
bracket accounts for 16%.12 The                                     Labour Market
country is also highly diverse eth-
nically and culturally speaking:                                    In February 2020, the labour force
the official languages are English                                  market share rate was estimated
and French.                                                         to be 64.8% for the entire popula-
                                                                    tion, with 60.7% of women and 69%
However, in 2016 both were the                                      of men. In that same month, the
mother tongue of just 79.5% of                                      unemployment rates were of 5.9%
the population, while 22.3% spoke                                   for the entire population, 6.5% of
other languages, mainly Manda-                                      women and 5.1% of men. The most
rin Chinese, Cantonese Chinese,                                     affected by unemployment have
Punjab, Filipino or Spanish, and                                    been young people as the 15-24-
the remaining 0.6% spoke an in-                                     year age bracket had a 10.4% rate.19
digenous language as a mother                                       The Services industry clustered a
tongue.13 In that same year, 4.9 %                                  79.9% of employment; the Manu-
of the population identified them-                                  facturing and Construction indus-
selves14 with a First Nation.15 Can-                                try, 17%; and Agriculture and other
ada has a Federal political organ-                                  Primary Activities with 3.1%.20
isation, with 10 Provinces16 and 3
Territories.17                                              Labour participation rate for In-
                                                            digenous Peoples is almost the
                                                            same as that of the rest of the
                                                            population since in 2019 it was of
                                                            63.9% in women and 65.7% in men.
                                                            Its unemployment rate, however,
                                                            was particularly high: 10.1% vs.
12        Statistics Canada, “Table 17-10-0005-01”, 2020.   5.7% among the general popula-
Retrieved from tion?pid=1710000501                                  tion, while the most affected were
13        Aboriginal identity refers to whether the person
identified themselves with any of the Aboriginal Peoples of men   (11.8 %) vs. women (8.3 %).21

Canada. These include peoples of First Nations, Inuit, peo-         18      Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon
ple registered by the Indian Act of Canada, and those who           19      Statistics Canada, “Table 14-10-0017-01”. Retrieved
were members of an indigenous community. For further                from https://www150.
information, please read https://www12.              pi- d=1410001701&pickMembers%5B0%- 5D=1.1&pickMem-
census-recensement/2016/ref/ dict/pop001-eng.cfm                    bers%5B1%5D=2.8
14      Statistics Canada, “Focus on Geography Series,              20      Proprietary calculation based on information
2016 Census”, 2016. Retrieved from https://www12.stat-              taken from Statistics Canada, “Table 14-10-0355-01”, 2020. sement/2016/as-sa/fogs-                     Retrieved from https://www150.
spg/Facts-CAN-Eng. cfm?TOPIC=5&LANG=Eng&GK=-                        en/tv.action?pi- d=1410035501&pickMembers%5B0%-
CAN&GC=01                                                           5D=1.1&pickMembers%5B1%5D=3.1&pick- Mem-
15      Statistics Canada, “Focus on Geography Series…”, op. cit.   bers%5B2%5D=4.2
16      Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Bruns-             21      Statistics Canada, “Table 14-10-0364-01”, 2020.
wick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario,              Retrieved from https://www150.
Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.                     tion?pi- d=1410036401&pickMembers%5B0%- 5D=3.6&pickMem-
17      Statistics Canada, “Table 17-10-0005”, op. cit.             bers%5B1%5D=4.1&pick- Members%5B2%5D=5.1

                                   SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                                               6
Poverty & Inequality                                            Epidemiological Profiles

In 2018, the last year for which                                The main causes of death in
there is available data, 8.7% of the                            Canada are non-communicable
population earned an income be-                                 chronic diseases (NCCD), acci-
low the poverty line.22                                         dents and injuries. In 2018, malig-
                                                                nant neoplasms, heart conditions,
The percentage of men living in                                 and cerebrovascular diseases
poverty (8.9%) was slightly high-                               were the three main causes of
er than in women (8.6%). The 18-                                death; followed by (4) accidents,
64-year age bracket is the most                                 (5) chronic obstructive pulmo-
affected, so much so that 10.3%                                 nary diseases, (6) influenza and
earned an income below the pov-                                 pneumonia, and (7) diabetes.27 A
erty line, followed by the 0-17-year                            risk factor associated to some of
age bracket with 8.2%, while only                               these conditions is sedentarism
3.5% of the 65+-year age group                                  and obesity, and in 2017 more
was found in this situation.23 For                              than half of the population suf-
income distribution, in 2018 the                                fered from overweight or obesity
highest decile clustered 23% of                                 (55.5%).28
the total income after taxes while
the four lowest deciles barely rep- A number of the diseases that
resented 20.8% when combined.24 cause a higher number of deaths
                                                         significantly affect the indigenous
Also, poverty and inequality in in- peoples. As shown on Chart 2, be-
come particularly affect indigenous tween 2011 and 2014, 48.9% of the
peoples. For instance, between Canadian population of 12+ years
2007 and 2010, food insecurity af- old had one or more chronic
fected between 14.3% and 26.3% of diseases,29 while 2 out of 3 of the
this population while only 7.6% of main indigenous peoples in Can-
the total population and 7.2% of the ada saw a percentage of 59.4%
non-indigenous population were for First Nations, 58.8% of the Mé-
found to experience this situation.25 tis peoples, and 50.5% of the In-
Furthermore, in 2015, the average uit people. In general, there is a
income of indigenous peoples of strong prevalence of respiratory
15+ years was CAD $36,000 vs. CAD diseases, diabetes, high blood
$50,000 earned by the rest of the pressure, heart conditions, and
population.26                                            sequels to heart attacks among
22     The official poverty line of Canada is calculated
based on the cost paid for a particular number of goods  these population groups.
and services, which represents a basic and modest               Economic Progress Report 2019, Quebec, 2019, pp. 31-33.
standard of life. This is an official measure and is adjusted   27        Statistics Canada, “Table 13-10-0800-02”, 2020.
based on the place of residence and family size.                Retrieved from
23        Statistics Canada. Table 11-10-0135- 01, 2020. tion?pid=1310080002
Retrieved from https://www150.        28        Statistics Canada, “Table 13-10-0373-01”, 2020.
cv.action?pi- d=1110013501#timeframe                            Retrieved from
24        Statistics Canada, “Canadian Income Survey, 2018”, tion?pid=1310037301
2020. Retrieved from https://          29        Asthma, arthritis (except for fibromyalgia), back prob-
daily-quoti- dien/200224/dq200224a-eng.htm                      lems (except for fibromyalgia and arthritis), high blood pressure,
25        Statistics Canada, “Table 13-10-0099-01”, 2020.       migraine, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, chronic obstructive
Retrieved from https://        pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, heart conditions, cancer, tion?pid=1310009901                                      stomach or peptic ulcers, sequels of strokes, urinary incontinence,
26        It is possible to notice a similar trend when ob-     an intestinal disorder such as Chron’s disease/ulcerative colitis/
serving the mean in income distribution, which accounts         irritable bowel syndrome/intestinal incontinence, Alzheimer’s dis-
for CAD $25,526 CAD in 2015 vs CAD $34,604 earned by            ease or any other type of dementia, a mood disorder such as de-
non-indigenous peoples. Please check The National In-           pression/bipolar disorder/mania/dysthymia, an anxiety disorder
digenous Economic Development Board, The Indigenous             such as phobia/obsessive-compulsive disorder/panic disorder.

                                SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                                                    7
SYS T E M I N T H E FAC E O F                                 with financial transfers being
T H E PA N D E M I C                                          made for people who were un-
                                                              employed, in quarantine or sick
In the last days of January, Prime                            with COVID-19; increases in fam-
Minister Justin Trudeau called                                ily transfers, and for companies,
for a Working Group to dis-                                   credits, tax reductions and for
cuss his Government’s response                                SMEs, subsidies to pay salaries.
to the emergency caused by
COVID-19, and a Cabinet Commit-                               The next sections will include the
tee was put in place on March 5th                             main features of the social se-
to coordinate the Federal Govern-                             curity system in three benefits
ment’s actions. Later that month,                             (Health Assistance, Elderly Ben-
the Government announced a fi-                                efits, Unemployment Insurance,
nancial stimulus package of a lit-                            and Family Benefits) and the Gov-
tle over CAD $100Bn,30                                        ernment’s response in these ar-
                                                              eas, as well as a brief summary
30       BBC News, “Canada Backs $75Bn Coronavirus            of the main actions aimed at pro-
Relief Bill”, March 25th, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.
                                                              tecting jobs.

                                SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                  8
CHARACTERISTICS OF                                            The Federal Government man-
THE SOCIAL SECURITY                                           ages the Non-Contributive Uni-
SYSTEM                                                        versal Pension Fund, which goes
                                                              by the name of Old Age Secu-
The Canadian Social Security                                  rity, in addition to a Contributive
System provides protection in                                 Structure, the Canada Pension
the nine benefits recognised by                               Plan (CPP) for 9 of the 10 provinc-
the Agreement 102 (Minimum                                    es and the three territories, while
Standard) of the International                                Quebec handles its own pension
Labour Organisation (ILO).31 The                              plan: The Quebec Pension Plan.
Canadian Government, howev-
er, has not ratified any of ILO’s                             The short-term benefits struc-
most important agreements on                                  ture is slightly similar to that of
social security, namely 102, 168                              pension funds. Therefore, there is
on Employment Protection; 121                                 a Federal structure in place that
on Occupational Accidents and                                 provides the entire population
Diseases; 121 on Occupation-                                  with unemployment insurance,
al Accidents and Occupational                                 financial benefits for sickness or
Diseases; or 130 on Healthcare.32                             caretakers of sick people at their
                                                              homes, and maternity and pater-
The Federal structure of the Ca-                              nity leave benefits in the provinc-
nadian Political System exer-                                 es covered by CCP. On the other
cises a strong influence on how                               hand, the people of Quebec have
the social security system works.                             access to maternity and paterni-
Provincial, Territorial and Local                             ty leaves via a healthcare struc-
Governments are responsible for                               tures managed by the provincial
organising, managing and pro-                                 autorities.
viding healthcare services while
funding is provided by these Gov-                             Finally, for family benefits, there
ernments and the Federal Gov-                                 is a non-contributive structure
ernment whose exclusive scope                                 handled by Federal authorities,
of action is closely checking that                            called Canada Child Benefit,
national goals are met.                                       which grants benefits to the pop-
                                                              ulation in progressive amounts.
For long-term benefits such as                                In 2017, Canada’s total expendi-
elderly pension funds, leave of                               ture in health was 10.6% of GDP,
absence and disability, as well                               out of which 73.7% represented
as survivors and death, the sys-                              public expenses while 26.3% was
tem works on a more centralised                               private. Out-of-pocket expendi-
manner.                                                       ture represented the great ma-
                                                              jority of this last type of expenses
                                                              as it accounted for 14.2% of the
                                                              total expenditure in healthcare.33
31        ILO, World Social Protection Report 2017-19: Uni-
versal social protection to achieve the Sustainable Devel-    33      See World Bank, Data Bank, 2020. Indicators:
opment Goals 2017-2019, Geneva, 2017, p. 255.                 Current Health Retrieved from
32        CISS, “Plataforma cartográfica sobre seguridad      indicator/ SH.XPD.OOPC.CH.ZS?locations=CA https:// data.
social”, 2020. Retrieved from http:// CH.ZS?locations=-
convenios                                                     CA https://data.worldbank. org/indicator/SH.XPD.GHED.
                                                              CH.ZS?loca- tions=CA;and
                                                              cator/ SH.XPD.CHEX.GD.ZS?locations=CA

                                SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                                         9
Between 2008 and 2018, the ex-                                BENEFITS
penditure destined to to health-
care accounted for around 24%                                 Healthcare System
of the general Government’s ex-
penditure.34 For human resourc-                               The Canadian healthcare sys-
es, it is possible to say that, be-                           tem provides coverage to all
tween 2011 and 2015, the number                               citizens and permanent resi-
of physicians grew in 13.3% while                             dents through structures that
the number of registered nurses                               were designed and managed
grew by 6.3%.35 Despite the ef-                               by the Provincial and Territorial
forts undertaken by the Govern-                               Governments, while the Federal
ments intended to reduce the                                  Governments provides special
gap between the rural and urban                               coverage to members of First
areas, in 2015 11.8% of registered                            Nations, Inuit, Armed Forces,
nurses worked in rural areas in                               some veterans, and people that
spite of the fact that 17.4% of the                           are locked up in the country’s
population36 lived there. Howev-                              penitentiary system. It also pro-
er, in 2016, rural areas had one                              vides temporary coverage to
physician per every 1,000 peo-                                asylees, protected people, and
ple and 2.6 in urban areas.37                                 asylum seekers via the Interim
                                                              Heath Program. As mentioned
Expenditure on social security                                before, the Federal Government,
also represented around 24% of                                Provincial and Territorial Gov-
the public expenditure in that                                ernments, Local Governments,
same period.38 In this category,                              and sometimes employers take
based on data from the Organ-                                 part in the funding. In the great
isation for Economic Coopera-                                 majority of provinces and all the
tion and Development (OECD), in                               territories, people are not re-
2015 the expenditure in financial                             quired to pay for an insurance
benefits were distributed as fol-                             premium, except for British Co-
lows: 4.7% of GDP on benefits to                              lumbia and Ontario.40
the elderly and survivors; 2.9% of
unemployment benefits; 1.8% of In 2017, the system coverage
family benefits; and 0.8% in sick- was of 100%.41 However, the
ness and disability benefits.39                            public insurance structures only
                                                           provide coverage for basic ser-
                                                           vices, which is why people often
34       This type of expenditure includes that used by    hire private insurances to cover
the Federal Government and the Provincial, Territorial and
Local Governments, as well as the social security funds,   medical prescriptions, dental
Aboriginal Governments, and Government-owned non-for-
profit organisations, but it excludes Government-owned     care, physiotherapy, ambulance
corporations. Please see Statistics Canada, “Table 10-10-
0005-01”, 2020. Retrieved from https://www150.statcan.     and  glass services. 42 tv.action?pid=1010000501
35       Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), “Cana-      40      Social Security Administration, “Canada”, Social
da”, op. cit.                                                 Security Programs Throughout the World: The Americas,
36       Idem                                                 2017, 2017. Retrieved from
37       OECD, Health Care at a Glance 2019: OECD Indica-     docs/prog-desc/ssptw/2016-2017/americas/index.html
tors, OECD, Paris, 2019, p. 113.                              41      OECD, Health Care at a Glance, op. cit., p. 105.
38       Statistics Canada. “Table 10-10-0005-01”, op. cit.   42      Government of Canada, “Health Care in Canada”,
39       OECD, “Social Expenditure – Aggregated”, OECD        2017. Retrieved from https://www.
Social Expenditure Database (SOCX), 2019. Retrieved from      gration-refugees-citizens- hip/services/new-immigrants/                                       new-life-canada/health-care-card.html

                                SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                                       10
Then, 67% of the population had                               Indigenous peoples face ma-
one type of voluntary private                                 jor inequalities in health: They
coverage in that year to provide                              have less access to physicians
ancillary services.43                                         to treat them regularly, worst re-
                                                              sults in health, as evidenced by
Despite the system coverage                                   the greater presence of chronic
being universal, there are some                               diseases,45 and reported their
inequalities in terms of access.                              health to be average or poor
In 2017, 15.3% of the population                              more often than not (see Chart
older than 12 years lacked of a                               3). This is due to several reasons,
regular healthcare service pro-                               but there are two that are par-
vider; the third part of the cases                            ticularly important:46
reported there was not any avail-
able in their area of residence or                            1. Service unavailability in
the one it was actually available                             their areas of residence, espe-
would not admit any more pa-                                  cially among people that live in
tients.44 These barriers caused                               reservations or remote areas in
by unavailability are often more                              the Northern part of the country.
evident in rural areas.                                       2. Discrimination and exclu-
                                                              sion indigenous people are ex-
                                                              posed to in the urban areas they
                                                              live in.

                                                              45      Please see previous section.
43       OECD, Health Care at a Glance, op. cit., p. 105.     46      National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous
44       Statistics Canada, “Primary Health Care Providers,   Health, “Social Determinants of Health, Access to Health
2017”, 2019. Retrieved from     Services as a Social Determinant of First Nations, Inuit and
n1/pub/82-625-x/2019001/article/00001-eng.htm                 Métis Health”, Fact Sheet, 2019.

                                SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                                           11
Together, the higher prevalence                             A crucial element in the Cana-
of chronic diseases and the lim-                            dian response to the COVID-19
ited access to healthcare ser-                              pandemic is the prior existence
vices make the indigenous pop-                              of coordination mechanisms and
ulation particularly vulnerable                             plans among different levels of
to the COVID-19 pandemic. As                                Government to respond to dif-
mentioned above, in the North-                              ferent types of emergency.
ern territories the pandemic has
not had severe effects in terms                             These plans have paid particu-
of healthcare. That is why the                              larly attention to emergencies
indigenous population living                                related to climate change, but
in these areas, some of them                                the country also has a health-
in reservations, may not be the                             care plan in place to face epi-
most affected by the pandemic.                              demics of influenza, which has
The situation is different for in-                          been adapted by the authorities
digenous people living in urban                             to face the emergency of CO-
areas. In the provinces of Alber-                           VID-19. Such plan dates back to
ta and British Columbia, which                              2004 and was created as a re-
are ranked three and four in                                sponse to the crisis caused by
the number of confirmed cases                               the virus SARS-COV-1 between
of COVID-19, there is a greater                             2002 and 2004, undergoing sev-
presence of indigenous people,                              eral updates, including one after
6.5% and 4.9%, respectively, vs.                            the emergence of the pandem-
4.9% in the country and, in both                            ic flu (AH1N1) in 2009. The crisis
cases, almost 60% lives outside                             caused by SARS in 2002 fostered
reservations, with around 50%                               a commitment from the Federal,
living in medium and big-size                               Provincial, and Territorial author-
communities.47                                              ities to develop mechanisms of
                                                            a coordinated intergovernmen-
As mentioned earlier, consid-                               tal response. In fact, the fact that
ering the decentralised organ-                              some governments had material
isation of the Canadian health-                             resources available, particularly
care system and distribution of                             mechanical respirators to treat
entitlements, the response of                               people in critical condition rep-
healthcare services is mainly                               resented an advantage.
the responsibility of Provincial
and Territorial Governments,
while the Federal Government is
responsible for tasks associated
to national monitoring, banning
of international trips, and invest-
ments on IT research and devel-

47     Statistics Canada, “Focus on Geography Series,
2016 Census”, 2019. Retrieved from https://www12.statcan. sement/2016/as-sa/fogs-spg/

                               SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                   12
Despite the differentiated re- • Adjust standard healthcare
sponses that each Provincial and    services to observe the social
Territorial Government has had      distancing conditions, particu-
for the pandemic, there has also    larly via remote medicine, but
been some common measures:          also changes in work schedule
                                    and rescheduling non-essen-
• Extend the epidemiological        tial services (Prince Edward
  monitoring, the diagnosis ca-     Island, Nova Scotia, Nunavut,
  pabilities and access criteria    Newfoundland and Labrador,
  (some of the provinces and        and the Northwest Territories).
  territories that have done it are
  Alberta, Prince Edward Island, • Create specialized hospitals
  Nova Scotia, New Brunswick,       to treat COVID-19 (Prince Ed-
  Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec,         ward Island).
  and the Northwest Territories). • Make criteria to have access

• Create regulations or laws to     to a health insurance plan less
  ensure enough financial and       stringent; for instance, reduc-
  human resources are avail-        ing the waiting times to obtain
  able at healthcare facilities     them or extending coverage
  for the people in general, and    to people that would not reg-
  the healthcare centres for the    ularly have access to it, such
  elderly. One of the measures      as temporary workers, people
  that has been adopted in that     with study or temporary work
  regard is licensing higher ed-    permits (British Columbia and
  ucation students and retirees     the Northwest Territories).
  to work in specific sectors, or • Some of the Provincial Gov-
  for those people to use facili-   ernments that have fostered
  ties and resources of private     special actions that consider
  organisations (Alberta, British   the indigenous peoples are
  Columbia, Nova Scotia, On-        Alberta and British Columbia.
  tario, Quebec and Saskatch-
  ewan).                          Additionally, the Federal Gov-
• Put mechanisms in place to ernment amended the Non-In-
  make it easier for people work- sured Health Benefits (NIHB) in
  ing on critical sectors to con- an attempt to make sure First
  tinue completing their activi- Nations and Inuit communities
  ties. For instance, give those have access to standard regu-
  people access to care servic- lar services and cover the cost
  es for their children (Alberta, of medical treatments and sup-
  British Columbia, New Bruns- plies required to care for people
  wick, and Saskatchewan).        suffering from COVID-19.

                 SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                    13
Elderly Benefits                       In the Provincial and Territorial
                                       levels, some governments have
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP)          announced additional financial
and Quebec Pension Plan (QPP)          transfers for the elderly (for ex-
programmes provide funding             ample, in New Brunswick and
through contributions to employ-       British Columbia). The Govern-
ers and employees, while the Old       ments’ response has been focus-
Age Security (OAS) programme is        ing more on ensuring continu-
completely funded with general         ity of the long-term senior care
revenue coming from the Gov-           home operations all the while
ernment. These three compo-            provisions have been consid-
nents of the Pension Fund Sys-         ered to make sure it works safe-
tem cover the great majority of        ly in the face of the emergency
the elderly age group.                 caused by COVID-19. These ac-
                                       tions will most probably, howev-
It is estimated that, as of July       er, not be enough since, from the
1st, 2019, the Canadian popula-        760 deaths that had been regis-
tion older than 65 years was of        tered until April 15th, almost half
6,592,611 people. In that same         was taken place in this type of
month, OAS provided elderly            establishments, according to
benefits to 6,367,900 people,          Canada’s Chief Public Health Of-
CPP to 5,322,242, and QPP to           ficer Theresa Tam.
1,920,871. The reason behind the
amount of these beneficiaries
being higher than the total num-
ber of 65+-year people is that
the CPP and QPP programmes
allow people to continue receiv-
ing the benefit when they move
out to another country, or that
the people currently living in
Canada and making payments
to a social security institutions in
other country with whom Can-
ada has an agreement in place
would continue receiving their
pension funds.

In the face of the crisis, ma-
jor amendments to the pension
fund structures operating in
Canada have been announced.
What has been done is adapting
them to ensure their continuity
and make electronic paperwork
more accessible.

                   SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                         14
Unemployment Benefits               In February 2020, around 16.1
                                    million people paid for contribu-
The insurance programme for         tions to the unemployment in-
unemployment,       Employment      surance – i.e. an 80% of the la-
Insurance (EI), covers the great    bour force. In that same month,
majority of people working un-      around 1.6 million people
der contract, provides volun-       were unemployed, and around
tary coverage to self-employed      583,000 received the unemploy-
peoples, and had special provi-     ment benefit, while the rest did
sions for those people working      not have access to the benefit
in farms, fisheries, the Armed      as they did not have a covered
Forces, and schools. The pro-       job, their employment separa-
gramme is funded through pay-       tion did not meet the require-
ments made by employees and         ments, or they had not worked
employers as contributions.         the required number of hours.
                                    The COVID-19 Emergency has
For those people working in         had major impacts in the labour
those covered activities to have    market, as mentioned above, as
access to this benefit, they must   around 3 million jobs have been
have been unemployed for, at        lost and work schedules of 2.5
least, seven consecutive days       million people have been re-
in the last year, the unemploy-     duced until April.
ment status must not have been
voluntary or due to negligence,     As a response, the Canada Emer-
the people must have worked         gency Response Benefit (CERB)
for 420-700 hours in the last       was created in order to protect
52 weeks or in the period ever      those people that have lost their
since they received the last un-    income due to them being sick
employment benefit and sub-         from COVID-19, being in quaran-
mitted a new application, and       tine, taking care of people suf-
must be willing, ready and ca-      fering from COVID-19, or schools
pable of working, and proactive-    and childcare facilities closure
ly looking for a job. The amount    forcing them to stay at home
of that benefit is of around 55%    to look after their families. It is
of the weekly insured income        also provided to employed or
and may be paid for up to 45        self-employed people that do
weeks, depending on the num-        not meet the requirements to
ber of worked hours and unem-       access the standard unemploy-
ployment rates registered in the    ment insurance. At first, this ben-
financial region where the indi-    efit could only be accessed by
vidual is.                          people who had lost their entire
                                    income and have been unem-
                                    ployed during the first 14 days of
                                    the month when the benefit was
                                    requested, and have earned less
                                    than CAD $5,000 in 2019.

                 SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                        15
On April 15th, an announcement      In April, it was estimated that
was made to inform the ben-         around 8.7 million were unem-
efit will be accessible to people   ployed or had seen their work
whose income was up to CAD          hours reduced to zero, the great
$1,000 per month, in addition to    majority (6.8 million) received
a permit for artists to continue    CERB while 459,000 received
earning income on the grounds       the standard unemployment
of copyrights for works executed    insurance (EI), and 1.2 million
prior March 1st, and even opened    people were not covered by any
the possibility that people who     programme that protected their
have exceeded the period of the     income (see Graphic 1).
unemployment benefit would
have access to CERB. This pro-      The great majority of those
gramme provides CAD $500 per        people who did not receive any
week for up to 16 weeks to those    benefits were people who were
people who meet the selection       already unemployed before
criteria and submit their appli-    March 15th (the date when CERB
cation. Funding comes from the      started operating) and were not
Federal Government, and Provin-     covered by the unemployment
cial and Territorial Governments.   insurance (38.9%), followed by
                                    those people who earned less
Between March 15th and May          than CAD $5,000 in 2019 (33%),
10th, 11.4 million applications     those people who voluntarily re-
had been received to have ac-       signed to their jobs (16.4%), and
cess to CERB, out of which 11.3     lastly those people who ran into
million had been processed and      problems while processing their
benefits for over CAD $30.5Bn       CERB application (11.7%) (please
had been granted.                   see Graphic 2).

                 SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                      16
Family Benefits

The Canada Child Benefit (CCB)        Among the covered families,
programme offers a tax-free           these ratios were of 71% and
monthly payment to those people       29%, respectively – i.e. it is pos-
who have filed their tax returns      sible to see a slight increase in
and are the main caretaker of an      coverage among single-parent
individual under 18 years old. The    families. From the total number
programme is exclusively funded       of households with minors, 45%
through federal resources and of-     had one minor, 38% had two mi-
fers differentiated amounts based     nors while the remaining 17%
on the families’ declared income.     had three or four minors. Among
In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, that    the beneficiaries, these ratios
started on July 2017 and ended        were of 41.6%, 37.8%, and 20.6%.
on June 2018, CCB made financial      Therefore, it is possible to see
transfers to 3,663,610 people that    a certain support in favour of
were the responsible caretakers       households with a higher num-
of individuals under 18 years of      ber of minors.
age. To get an idea of how much
this amount represents, it is nec-    CCB substantially improved the
essary to bear in mind that the       situation of people with lower
household universe with at least      income as it has a wide cover-
one minor was of 5,783,220 in 2017.   age and delivers progressive
74.6% of these households were        amounts. Graphic 3 shows esti-
two-parent families and 25.4%         mates on family and minor ben-
were single-parent families.          eficiary distributions based on
                                      level of income earned before
                                      and after receiving CCB.

                  SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                         17
It is possible to see two main Considering that families whose
effects resulting from this earned income for the 2017-2018
programme:                     Fiscal Year was less than CAD
                               $30,000 received an average
1) Reduce the number of people of almost CAD $860 per month,
and families with income less the increase may be a little over
than CAD $20,000, and          a third of the income by CCB.49

2) increases the number of peo- In summary, Figure 1 shows the
ple who earned between CAD main characteristics of the social
$30,000-$69,000.                   security benefits available before
                                   the COVID-19 crisis while Figure
In this regard, the main action 2 shows the characteristics cor-
that was undertaken consisted responding to governmental re-
in giving an additional amount sponses to face the emergency.
to people who were beneficia-
ries of CCB in May. This increase
will be provided both to those
people who were already ben-
eficiaries and people who are
the responsible caretakers of a
minor and have filed their tax re-
turns for the 2018 Fiscal Year.

There is even the possibility that
people who had moved to Can-
ada between January 2019 and
until April 2020 to receive this
benefit, as long as they present
documents that evidence their
income prior to their arrival in

Only the amount for May 2020
will be provided and may be of
up to CAD $3,000 per minor, but
it will depend on the requesting
individual’s earnings.48

                                                        49       Proprietary calculations based on information
                                                        from the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis, Eco-
48       Canada Revenue Agency, “Canada Child Benefit   nomic Contribution of the Canada Child Benefit: A Basic
(CCB) Payment Increase: CRA and COVID-19”, 2020. Re-    Income Guarantee for Canadian Families with Children,
trieved from   September 2019, p. 21. Retrieved from https://ubiworks.
campaigns/coVID-19-update/coVID-19-ccb-payment-in-      ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Economic-Contribu-
crease.html#send                                        tion-of-the-Canada-Child-Benefit.pdf

                            SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                                     18
Employment Protection               An important requirement to
Actions                             have access to this benefit is
                                    that organisations pay salaries,
The Federal Government of bonuses or any other type of re-
Canada announced three spe- muneration to their employees.51
cific actions to protect working
people and labour in general. This last action was an amend-
One of them was Canada Emer- ment to the Work Sharing Pro-
gency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), a gramme. This programme of-
subsidy to the salaries of all the ten seeks to prevent companies
companies affected by the pan- from laying their employees off
demic (or by the actions under- when there is an involuntary re-
taken to contain it), irrespective duction in its economic activity.
of its industry or size. This pro- This is done by providing unem-
gramme will provide particular ployment insurance benefits to
subsidy of up to 75% of the em- those people who willingly ac-
ployees’ salaries (with a limit of cept a reduction in the number of
CAD $847 per week) for compa- hours they would normally work
nies that have experienced re- and share their work station with
ductions of up to 15% of its in- people doing a similar work.52
come in March or 30% in April The agreed reduction must be
and May. It will have a duration of 10%-60% of the total number
of 12 weeks, from March 15th to of work hours and frequently
June 6th.50                         lasts between 6-26 consecutive
                                    weeks, but there is the possi-
Moreover, employers who meet bility to reach an agreement as
the selection criteria may re- to receive it for up to 38 weeks.
ceive a refund of a number of This programme can be acces-
their social security contribution sible by private companies, with
payments for the people that are public capital, and non-for-prof-
not working, but are still receiv- it organisations that have been
ing their salary. Another action is operating for at least two years,
a temporary subsidy on tax ob- all of which evidence that their
ligations liable to corporations financial activity has suffered
called Temporary 10% Wage from an involuntary reduction,
Subsidy.                            have seen their revenues re-
                                    duced by at least 10%, and sub-
This benefit was made available mit a recovery plan to resume
to small companies, one-person their regular operations.53
companies, non-corporate as-
sociate corporations, and charity
and non-for-profit organisations.
                                                         51      Idem.
                                                         52      Employment and Social Development Canada,
                                                         “Work-Sharing –Eligibility”, 2020. Retrieved from https://
50     Government of Canada, “Canada’s COVID-19          53      Employment and Social Development Canada,
Economic Response Plan”, 2020. Retrieved from https://   “Work-Sharing Program – COVID-19”, 2020. Retrieved from
sponse-plan.html                                         ment/services/work-sharing/notice-coVID-19.html

                              SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                                      21
In the face of the COVID-19          CONCLUSIONS
emergency, the Government of
Canada rendered some of the          The Government of Canada and
programme’s requirements and         the Provincial and Territorial
characteristics more flexible.       governments have put a great
The maximum deadline for that        response in place to the crisis
benefit was extended for up to       caused by the COVID-19 pan-
76 consecutive weeks, allowing       demic in order to stop the virus
companies that have depleted         causing it from further spread-
their duration to take part in a     ing, treat sick people, and ad-
similar agreement, which can         dress the financial and social
reapply for the programme. The       backlashes brought by the cri-
minimum operation requirement        sis. For health, this has mainly
was reduced from two to one          consisted in ensuring continu-
year, the recovery plan require-     ity of services and sufficiency of
ments have been simplified, and      resources for it to operate. For
the coverage was extended as         elderly people care, to ensure
to cover those organisations that    continuity of the pension fund
would not regularly take part        programmes, but specially to try
in the programme, but work on        to make sure long-term senior
critical activities to contain the   care homes operate in a safe
emergency.54                         manner. In terms of protecting
                                     the income of those people who
                                     are in their working prime age,
                                     what is sought after is to include
                                     people who have lost their in-
                                     come due to the emergency and
                                     would not be eligible under the
                                     regular unemployment insur-
                                     ance standards. For family ben-
                                     efits, the benefit amount that
                                     people would receive in May
                                     underwent a one-time increase.
                                     Finally, for employment protec-
                                     tion, salaries and other expens-
                                     es incurred by companies have
                                     been subsidised.

                                     A crucial component in the sani-
                                     tary response is the existence
                                     of intergovernmental planning
                                     and coordination mechanisms
                                     in place for Emergencies, as
                                     evidenced by the Management
                                     Plan developed for influenza,
                                     which could be adapted to this
54   Idem.                           contingency.

                  SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                       22
Another crucial component is          The crisis is also less likely to af-
how existing administrative ca-       fect elderly people’s income as
pabilities have been harnessed        there is a non-contributive fam-
as the Tax Collection Agency is       ily benefits structure in place
the agency that is mainly respon-     (CCB) that provides progressive
sible for managing new benefits       amounts. It is also necessary to
and tailoring existing benefits.      take into consideration the fact
                                      that the increased amount of
For healthcare, the group that        up to CAD $300 put in place in
is particularly vulnerable is the     May may account for more than
elderly people as it clusters a       one third of the monthly amount
high number of contagions and         earned by the people having the
deaths due to COVID-19. In fact,      lowest income.
a reason for concern is that a
great number of the total deaths      The creation of a benefit for
has occurred in long-term senior      people who have lost their in-
care homes, something that pos-       come due to the pandemic has
es a problem that must be con-        included groups that would be
sidered a priority by the authori-    excluded from the standard em-
ties. The low levels of poverty in    ployment insurance (EI) and the
this group and the virtually uni-     great majority of unemployed
versal coverage of the pension        people receiving an unemploy-
fund system suggest that the fi-      ment benefit (EI or CERB). How-
nancial impact of the emergen-        ever, in April there was around
cy will not be huge among the         1.2 million jobless people who
elderly people group.                 had no coverage. It is important
                                      that the Government takes this
Another group to whom special         group into consideration since
attention should be paid health-      the great majority was unem-
care wise is Indigenous people        ployed in the face of the crisis
living in urban areas, particularly   and did not have any access
in the provinces with the highest     to employment insurance or
number of confirmed cases giv-        earned less than CAD $5,000 in
en the obstacles those people         income. In this regard, it is possi-
face to have access to health-        ble to assert that protecting the
care services and the high prev-      income of those people in work-
alence of risk factors.               ing prime age is perhaps the
                                      main challenge the social se-
                                      curity system and the response
                                      to the COVID-19 pandemic may
                                      have to face.

                  SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                           23
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                      SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                24
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                       SOCIAL SECURITY FOR WELFARE                                  25
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