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II. FAMILY TYPE AND FAMILY SIZE


   The chances of people having to rely on welfare at some point in their lives vary greatly
by family type. The three most common family types on welfare are unattached men,
unattached women, and families headed by single-parent mothers. In both good times and
bad, these three family types are overrepresented on the welfare rolls. Each welfare case consists of one or more individuals on welfare. By definition, all the
welfare cases made up of unattached men and women consist of one person each. Welfare cases
made up of families tend to be relatively small. The stereotype of welfare families with
hordes of children is not even close to the truth.

  

GRAPH A



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   Graph A on the previous page shows welfare cases by family type in March 1997 for all
jurisdictions except Yukon and the Northwest Territories. The graph is also missing information
from municipal welfare programs in Nova Scotia and Manitoba. Overall, the graph covers
1,452,779 cases or 97 percent of the estimated total national caseload as of March 1997. Single-parent mothers and their children accounted for 388,426 welfare cases or 27
percent of the welfare cases in Graph A, unattached women represented 21 percent of the total,
and unattached men represented 34 percent. The National Council of Welfare's annual
publication Poverty Profile shows that single-parent mothers and unattached women and men are
among the family types most likely to be poor, so it is not surprising that they are also
among the most likely to be on welfare. All three family types are overrepresented on the welfare rolls compared to their numbers
in the population at large. Single-parent mothers made up 27 percent of the welfare cases in
Graph A, but single-parent mothers in the population at large accounted for only six percent of
all family types under 65. Unattached women were 21 percent of welfare cases, but only 12
percent of all family types under 65. Unattached men were 34 percent of welfare cases and
17 percent of all family types under 65. One of the other intriguing differences in the graph is the fact that the number of
unattached men on welfare is significantly higher than the number of unattached women on
welfare. A look at the figures for the entire adult population under 65 shows a similar
difference in the number of unattached men and women. Obviously, some unattached men are
the fathers of the children of single-parent mothers. The men are living on their own, while
the women are living with the children. The distribution of welfare cases by family type did not change much in the years after
the first figures were collected in 1990. Even though the welfare rolls swelled substantially
in the wake of the recession of 1990-91, the proportions of different family types on welfare
never changed more than a percentage point or two from one year to another. Table 1 gives the details from March 1990 through March 1997. The figures cover all
ten provinces, plus the two territories, and were compiled by officials of Human Resources
Development Canada using information in addition to the information in the database. Only four

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family types were estimated year after year: unattached persons, couples without children,
single-parent families and couples with children. The totals for each year also include a
handful of welfare cases that do not fit into one of the four standard categories.

TABLE 1 ESTIMATED WELFARE CASES BY FAMILY TYPE, ALL PROVINCES AND TERRITORIES, MARCH 1990-MARCH 1997


  

Unattached Persons

Couples without Children

Single Parents

Couples with Children

Total Cases

March 1990 597,800 57% 55,800 5% 309,400 29% 93,000 9% 1,056,000 100%
March 1991 710,000 57% 62,400 5% 349,400 28% 117,200 9% 1,239,000 100%
March 1992 840,900 57% 72,900 5% 408,200 28% 149,000 10% 1,471,900 100%
March 1993 924,500 57% 80,500 5% 441,500 27% 169,700 10% 1,616,200 100%
March 1994 948,700 57% 81,700 5% 465,600 28% 179,900 1% 1,675,900 100%
March 1995 928,300 56% 79,900 5% 472,500 28% 178,600 11% 1,659,200 100%
March 1996 869,300 55% 80,800 5% 454,500 29% 177,400 11% 1,582,000 100%
March 1997 822,600 55% 77,500 5% 429,600 29% 165,000 11% 1,494,800 100%


   The number of welfare cases made up of unattached persons, for example, was estimated
to be 597,800 or 57 percent of the total of 1,056,000 welfare cases in March 1990. The number

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rose sharply over the next several years before peaking in March 1994, but the percentage
of cases remained more or less the same from one year to the next. The statistics for the other three family types followed the same pattern. As the recession
took its toll, all family types were at greater risk of falling onto welfare. As the economy
recovered from the recession, the risk of falling onto welfare declined for all family types. Table 2 on the next page shows variations in family type by province using data for
March 1997 from the social assistance profile project. The total of 1,452,779 cases shown in
the table represents 97 percent of the estimated national total of 1,494,800 cases in Table 1. The most glaring variations are in Nova Scotia and Manitoba, two provinces which have
two-tier welfare systems. Under two-tier systems, provincial caseloads are made up of longer-
term recipients, notably single-parent families and people with disabilities, and municipal
caseloads are mostly short-term cases where the unattached person on welfare or the head of
the family is considered to be employable. Two of the rows in the table are labelled Nova Scotia Provincial and Manitoba Provincial
to set them off from the other provinces. If municipal welfare statistics had been included,
the percentages in Nova Scotia and Manitoba would likely have been much closer to the percentage
totals shown in the bottom row of the table. Ontario is also a two-tier welfare province, but it was able to provide statistics on most
municipal welfare caseloads. The municipal figures that were provided were "grossed up"
in the database to approximate the total caseload. The table shows a number of smaller variations from province to province that relate to
differences in the local economy, differences in welfare policy and demographic differences.
The government of Alberta, for example, made a decision in 1993 to discourage young single
people from applying for welfare and to steer them to other possibilities. That probably
explains in large part why the percentage of unattached persons on welfare in Alberta is well
below average.

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TABLE 2 WELFARE CASES BY FAMILY TYPE, 97 PERCENT SAMPLE, MARCH 1997


    

Unattached Persons

Couples without Children

Single Parents

Couples with Children

Total Cases

Newfoundland 17,386 48% 3,575 10% 7,985 22% 6,820 19% 35,886 100%
Prince Edward Island 2,992 53% 262 5% 1,640 29% 714 13% 5,614 100%
Nova Scotia Provincial 11,991 39% 902 3% 16,252 52% 1,864 6% 31,042 100%
New Brunswick 17,115 47% 2,944 8% 11,192 31% 4,926 14% 36,177 100%
Quebec 299,511 64% 25,947 6% 98,111 21% 46,806 10% 470,375 100%
Ontario 273,588 47% 28,816 5% 201,900 35% 73,491 13% 577,795 100%
Manitoba Provincial 11,554 46% 816 3% 12,119 48% 799 3% 25,431 100%
Saskatchewan 21,063 54% 1,618 4% 12,157 31% 4,286 11% 39,124 100%
Alberta 17,534 44% 1,997 5% 15,684 39% 4,878 12% 40,093 100%
British Columbia 121,256 63% 8,136 4% 48,760 25% 13,090 7% 191,242 100%
Totals 793,990 55% 75,013 5% 425,800 29% 157,675 11% 1,452,779 100%
NOYE: The statistics for Nova Scotia and Manitoba do not include municipal welfare cases.


The statistics in the database on family type are also broken down by the number of
people in each welfare case. The breakdown by family size is shown in Graph B. The sample

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does not include New Brunswick cases or municipal welfare cases in Nova Scotia and Manitoba.
The graph represents 95 percent or 1,416,602 of the estimated total of 1,494,800 cases. By definition, all the people on welfare classified as unattached persons fall into the one-
person category in Graph B. That category represented 55 percent of the cases on welfare. The
two-person households in the graph consisted of couples without children or single parents with
one child. The three-person households were single parents with two children or couples
with one child, and so on. What is most striking about the graph is that 95 percent of the welfare cases consisted
of four persons or less. Only five percent of all welfare cases had five or more people. Among
other things, that meant that most of the families with children on welfare were also
small, as we will see in a later chapter of this report.

      

GRAPH B



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