Doug Brent citing Jane V. Nelson said:
>>And we heard from Graff at the C's about the interesting scheme of requiring
>>literacy tests to receive welfare, and I think he said this scheme is being
>>proposed in Canada, although I might not be remembering correctly.
Here's something of the story, with samples of the rhetoric (!). In
Ontario, Mike Harris of the Conservatives said in 1995, "The vast
majority [of welfare recipients] ... want to work and want to better
their lives. They are good people trapped in a bad system -- I am not
prepared to give up on a single one of them." This was on the way to
announcing welfare-to-work scheme called Ontario Works, which sought out
job placements, etc. The plan also included "mandatory literacy testing
and training to help people on welfare who canıt read and write break
through the literacy barrier and get ready to work. The Government
recognizes that literacy is a basic yet important skill in todayıs
marketplace." Side-by-side with literacy testing there was "Mandatory
drug [testing and?] treatment to help people overcome an addiction that
is a barrier to getting a job."
The testing scheme wasn't actually in place until 2001 or 2002,
supposedly to be administered to any welfare applicant lacking grade 12.
Just from anecdotal knowledge, I suspect that though a few people may
have been cut off welfare for refusing the test, in many more cases it
was offered to people merely as an option, or social workers (especially
in high unemployment areas) simply ignored it. I don't know of any
actual studies done on the program. Come to think of it, I also don't
know what's come of it with the change to the Liberal government.
Dr. Richard Darville
School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies
1125 Colonel By Dr.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1S 5B6
613-520-2600 ext. 2808; fax 613-520-6641
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