It is known that the Mothers’ Allowance policy was one of the first provincial income programs specially established to provide financial support to women and their children. Although the first charity programs and later government programs were specially designed to save poor women from destitution, they also had another goal ”“ to provide support that implied “the right to regulate or control the dependent person”, according to John M. Herrick and Paul H. Stuart (2004, p. 442). This philosophic approach was focused on the patriarchal relationship between men and women, husbands and wives. In other words, early social welfare programs in Canada “took on the role and assumed authority of the absent patriarch, husband or breadwinner” (Herrick & Stuart, 2004, p. 442).

As a rule, social control is closely connected with such forms and mechanisms as repression or discrimination, co-optation or integration, paternalism or conformity and even self-determination. On the one hand, social control is represented as the oppression of the dominant class, on the other hand, social control is “the connective tissue which binds together the perfectly functioning social organism” (Dean, 1991, p. 10). It has been found that social control operates at three different levels: first, political settlement and rewards; second, penalties and sanctions and third, level of discipline and individual. Due to the development of social security, the so-called “begging bowl” was replaced by the so-called “social wage”. This change is focused on the use of the philosophical tradition with such elements as humanitarianism, paternalism and positive attitude towards population. In fact, the social wage is “a form of compensation paid to society’s lower orders for the adverse consequences or ”˜dis-welfares’ of capitalist development”, according to Hartley Dean (1991, p. 177). In other words, it is an investment of the ruling class in the reproduction of a potentially productive social class. The major reason of these changes is that poverty in developed countries, including Canada, is a unique creation of the welfare state. This fact means that social security system can be “better understood for the successful manner in which it sustains poverty both as a regulated or manageable problem and as a process of subjection” (Dean, 1991, p. 178). Social policy initiatives that are specially designed to prevent poverty, have in fact contributed to the implementation of the strategy of social control. According to Francis Turner (2005), this initiative separated the group of mothers without any support by a male parent from others and “contributed to the development of a variety of mechanisms through which their lives were ruled and defined”(p. 245).


It is known that many factors contributed to the development of the Mother’s Allowance policy in Canada, including economic, social, cataclysmic and demographic factors.

Economic factors

The low level of economic development of the country in the early 20-th century (the post war period) led to the growth of unemployment, slums, infant mortality, increased crime rate and poor health care services. These factors led to instability of the family, increased divorce rate and “support for motherhood received widespread sanction”, according to Francis Turner (2005, p. 244). Anne Westhues (2006) states that “in the process of building the Canadian post-World War II welfare state, transfer of federal funds for provincial social programs became contingent on the employable-unemployable dichotomy” (p. 297).

Social factors

It has been found that in the early 20-th century, a number of women’s movements in Canada and in other countries of the world advocated for “the paid motherhood as a way to prevent the dissolution of family ties and attending to the plight of dependent poor children”(Turner, 2005, p. 244).

Due to effective struggle of the excluded groups of poor mothers, social workers and women’s groups, enlargement of eligibility criteria provided more categories of mothers to stay at home and raise their children. The total number of beneficiaries was increased (Westhues, 2006, p. 297).

In addition, there were certain changes in the family structure, as many women lost their husbands at wars and had to raise their children without male support. The development of new ideologies was focused on the fact that “the motherhood duties, until seen as a necessary job, were reinterpreted as an obstruction to entering the labor force” (Westhues, 2006, p. 297).

Cataclysmic factors

It is known that during the period of 1914-1964, social life of Canada was influenced by World War I, World War II, the post-war periods, the period of Great Depression that began in 1929.

Demographic factors

During the Mothers’ Allowance period (1916-1964), women began to play a more important role in Canadian society. They performed more serious tasks and were encouraged to work in factories and heavy industries.  The wave of immigration influenced labor supply.

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