SOCW 2121: Social Welfare in Canada

This course provides an overview of the income security system in Canada - its development, programs, and major policy debates. It is intended for those seeking an understanding of the many income security programs and policies, how they reflect ideologies, and how effectively they work (or fail to work) in practice. This course provides an overview of social welfare in Canada - its historical foundations, developmental and program delivery system. The course will consider how social policy responds to populations in need.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Define social welfare and describe its relationship to social service programs and to individual well being
  • Understand how different political ideologies frame social welfare in Canada
  • Understand the process of social policy development from problem identification to policy implementation
  • Describe historical socio-political factors that have influenced the major phases of social welfare provision in Canada
  • Describe the range and organization of social service agencies that are responsible for providing social welfare programs to Canadians
  • Explain the various roles that professional and non professional helpers provide in the delivery of social welfare and their influence in promoting change in policy development
  • Recognize the incidence and impact of poverty on Canadians and the associated issues for people living in poverty
  • Critically think about the feminization of poverty and how social welfare policy can reinforce issues of dominance and inequality
  • Understand the umbrella concept of child welfare in social welfare policy; as well as the implications of child maltreatment and the social welfare response
  • Examine the changing social knowledge about older Canadians; the current population indicators and the social policy framework.
  • Understand the historical aboriginal social welfare policies and their effect on aboriginal people's lives today
  • Consider how immigration policies and social welfare policies support or exclude members of racialized groups in their integration, or social inclusion, in Canada
  • Review Canadian attitudes and beliefs towards people with physical and mental disabilities and the perspectives that inform national policies

Course topics

SOCW 2121 comprises twelve modules of study. These modules introduce the topic to be discussed and provide learning objectives to guide your learning.

Module 1: The purpose and function of social welfare

Module 2: The Process of Social Welfare Policy Development in Canada

Module 3: History of Social Welfare in Canada

Module 4: The Service Delivery System

Module 5: Service Provision in the delivery of Social Welfare

Module 6: Income Security

Module 7: Feminization of Poverty

Module 8: Social Welfare of Children and Youth

Module 9: Social Welfare and Older Canadians

Module 10: Social Welfare and Aboriginal Canadians

Module 11: Social Welfare and Racialized minorities

Module 12: Social Welfare and People with Disabilities

Required text and materials

  1. Chappel, Rosalie. (2010). Social Welfare in Canadian Society. 5th Edition. Nelson Education.
    Type: Textbook: ISBN: 978-0-17-651543-0

Audiovisual Materials:

Thompson Rivers University, Open Learning SOCW 2121 USB. Note: the USB is included only in the print version of the course; in the web version, the clips of the audio and video materials are provided online.
Type: USB

Additional requirements

Print, self-paced students will need access to a computer to view a USB included in the course materials.


In order to successfully complete this course, you must obtain at least 50% on the mandatory Final Project and 50% overall. It is strongly recommended that students complete all assignments in order to achieve the learning objectives of the course.

However, please note that for this course to apply to the completion of your Social Service Worker Certificate, you must obtain a grade of 60%, or higher, overall in the course.

Your final grade for the course is determined on the following basis:

Assignment 1 - Critical Reflection 1.1 - 3.2 10%
Assignment 2 - Media Analysis/Letter Response 25%
Assignment 3 - Critical Reflection Journal 4.1 - 5.2 10%
Assignment 4 - Critical Reflection 6.1 - 8.2 10%
Assignment 5- Critical Reflection 9.1 - 12.1 10%
Final Project Research Paper (mandatory) 35%
TOTAL 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of your course.

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