Welfare needs are met by federal, provincial, and municipal governments as well as by voluntary agencies. Community chests, federated funds, and welfare councils throughout the country, affiliated with the Canadian Welfare Council, provide cooperative planning, financing, and consultative services.
Federal programs include family allowances, old age security, and earning-related disability and survivors' pensions. There is a family allowance for low-income families for each child under the age of eighteen. The amount of these child allowances declines as family net income increases. Persons aged 65 and over receive monthly pensions, supplemented in some provinces on a means-test basis. Under federal-provincial programs, monthly allowances are paid to needy persons aged 65 to 69 and to needy persons aged 18 or over who are blind or totally and permanently disabled. The federal government reimburses each participating province for half the cost of unemployment insurance payments.
The provinces provide allowances to needy mothers and their dependent children, widows, and single parents, the disabled, and those in mental hospitals. Some provinces provide for divorced, separated, and unmarried mothers, and for mothers whose husbands are in penal institutions. Most provinces reimburse municipalities for part of the costs of aid to transients and to needy residents on the basis of a means test. Municipalities, provinces, and voluntary agencies finance child welfare services. Homes for the aged are generally maintained by municipalities and voluntary organizations.
Since 1941, a contributory scheme of unemployment insurance and a nationwide free employment service have been in operation. Workers contribute 2.55% of their earnings, and employers contribute at 1.4 times that rate. In every province, employers are also required to contribute to a workers' compensation insurance fund. Workers are indemnified for accidents or occupational diseases and receive medical aid during the period they do not work. In industries, burial expenses in case of accidental death are included.
Women participate fully in the Canadian labor force, including business and the professions, although government reports show that their average earnings are still less than those of men. There is equality in marriage and property rights. The government spends considerable funds to prevent domestic violence and to provide services to victims. The law prohibits sexual harassment and criminal harassment.
Aboriginal Canadians remain locked in land disputes with the government. Treaty negotiations to transfer land titles to natives or agree to compensation for use of the land have not made much progress. There has been an increase in anti-Semitic harassment in recent years. The government protects human rights.