The Canadian Fact Book on Income Security Programs


70 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-88810-400-6
DDC 362.5'82'0971




Reviewed by Jeffrey Moon

Jeff Moon is Head of the Maps, Data, & Government Information Centre (MADGIC), at Queen's University


This book attempts to dispel some of the confusion surrounding
Canada’s social programs. It provides a succinct overview of major
federal and provincial income security programs in chapters dealing with
retirement; families with children; labor markets; welfare/income
security; health care; and social services.

A brief summary of current expenditures (per person and total) and the
number of recipients is provided at the start of each section. This is
followed by a clear description of the program and sources for further

The realm of income security programs, like other government-mediated
programs, is subject to change. Published in 1992, this book contains at
least two sections that are already dated: the refundable child tax
credit has been replaced, and the rules governing RRSPs have been

Only two tables have been provided; one shows direct spending on social
programs, the other tax-delivered spending (i.e., deductions,
nonrefundable and refundable credits). Perhaps other tables, such as a
summary of program characteristics, would have proven useful.

This book sticks to its “factual overview” mandate, providing no
commentary on the state of a given program, its effectiveness, or our
ability to pay for it. It begs a companion volume, one that critically
evaluates each program and suggests alternative solutions (sure to make
MPs’ top–10 lists of books to read).

This book explains in straightforward terms the intricacies of the
Canadian income security system. Dated information aside, it provides a
concise yet comprehensive overview of this key social issue.


Hess, Melanie., “The Canadian Fact Book on Income Security Programs,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,