Report on Social Security for Canada, written in wartime, presented to Canadians a picture of a better life in the postwar world. It outlined what governments could do to ensure that all citizens could afford the food, clothing, and shelter necessary to participate fully in their community. Authored by Leonard Marsh for the wartime Federal Advisory Committee on Reconstruction, the report was the subject of enormous attention when it was presented to the House of Commons in March 1943. Drawing on the work of his mentor, William Beveridge, and of John Maynard Keynes, Marsh primarily recommended an employment program meant to ensure lower unemployment and higher incomes. His report also discussed family allowances to make certain that no child would go without, health care insurance, temporary assistance in case of illness, a pension plan, and various other social benefits related to maternity, disability, loss of employment, and death. Today Report on Social Security for Canada is seen as a foundational text for the Canadian social security system. In this edition Allan Moscovitch provides the historical context, an outline of Marsh's accomplishments, and suggestions for how to enhance the welfare state and respond to the social needs of Canadians in the twenty-first century.
Leonard Marsh (1906-1983) was a social scientist, director of the McGill Social Science Research project, and a professor at McGill University and the University of British Columbia. Allan Moscovitch is professor emeritus at Carleton University.