Disorder, dependency and fiscal responsibility : unemployment relief in Winnipeg, 1907-1942

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Goeres, Michael Ralph
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This thesis is a study of the origins and development of unemployment relief in Winnipeg between the years 1907 and 1942. It postulates that unemployment relief was a reaction not to unemployment but to problems created by unemployment; these were problems of disorder, dependency and fiscal responsibility. The thesis traces these responses and demonstrates how they resulted in an increasing involvement in relief by the municipal, provincial and federal governments. It first considers reactions to the first heavy incidences of unemployment in 1907-08 and 1913-15. It then discusses the post-World War I period, the active involvement of the federal government in relief, and the effect on local government when that involvement ended. It analyses the relationship between the political groups on Winnipeg City Council and between City Council and the provincial government, and discusses how these relationships affected unemployment relief. The thesis considers the many responses to unemployment in the first three years of the Great Depression. It then turns to the middle years of the 1930s, suggesting that the emphasis of relief programmes was on curing dependency but within the rigid constraints of fiscal responsibility. The thesis concludes by considering the impact of the relief experience on public attitudes. It suggests that the result of the relief experience was to create an insistent public demand for what became the postwar welfare state.