Social Work: Canadian Public Policy

Reference Materials
Government Documents
Materials from Other Libraries


This guide is intended to be used as a starting point for conducting research on social policy in Canada. Social policy includes all aspects of public policy related to social issues such as education, health care, poverty and housing.

If you require additional assistance finding resources, please visit the Information and Research Assistance Desk on level 10 of the library, or phone us at 403.329.2263.

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Reference Materials

Use encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference materials to identify important concepts, to find definitions, and to gather background information on your topic. Following are a few of the reference resources relevant to the study of social policy:

The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology

Dictionary of Government and Politics

Encyclopedia of Aging

The Language of Canadian Politics: a Guide to important Terms and Concepts

Encyclopedia of Digital Government

Encyclopedia of Disability

Encyclopedia of Social Work

International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences [electronic resource]

The Welfare State and Social Work : Pursuing Social Justice

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Government Documents

Government publications are vital information sources for social policy. Many Canadian and Alberta government publications are located in the Government Documents, Main, or Microform Collections in the Library.

**TIP: Library Catalogue Do a KEYWORD SEARCH by topic and limit to Material Type – GOVDOC

Government Information (Library Web site)
Access links to the home pages of government department, agencies, and organizations at all levels – local, national, and international; Also includes information and examples on citing government documents.

** TIP: To find social policy information related to a piece of legislation, go to the committee reports of the appropriate legislative body. These include the government's and opposition's viewpoints, and remarks/briefs of community leaders and experts who addressed the Committee.

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The most efficient way to find periodical articles is to use periodical indexes and abstracts. Most are available in some kind of electronic format via the Library's homepage. Social Work students: Databases labeled *SOWK only are Social Work related databases held at the University of Calgary and are listed here for your convenience. Clicking on the title will redirect you to the University of Calgary Library's authentication page where you will need to sign in using your U of C Campus Card barcode and password.

PAIS International and PAIS Archive An index to the world's public and social policy literature in the fields of business, economics, local and federal government, political science, international relations, finance, and other social sciences

Canadian Public Policy Collection *SOWK only Collection of monograph publications from Canadian public policy institutes, government agencies, advocacy groups, think-tanks, university research centres and other public interest groups.

Social Services Abstracts Access research focused on social work, human services, and related areas, including social welfare, social policy, and community development.

Social Work Abstracts *SOWK only Search journal articles covering essential areas related to social gerontology, including the psychology of aging, elder abuse, society and the elderly, and more.

Abstracts in Social Gerontology *SOWK only Search journal articles covering essential areas related to social gerontology, including the psychology of aging, elder abuse, society and the elderly, and more.

PsycINFO [via Ovid] Access scholarly literature in the psychological, social, behavioral, and health sciences. Relevant to psychologists, students, and professionals in related fields such as psychiatry, management, sociology, nursing, pharmacology, anthropology, business, education, neuroscience, law, medicine, and social work.

SocINDEX with Full Text Access international literature in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences.

AgeLine *SOWK only Search literature on the subject of aging and middle-aged and older adults, particularly addressing the social, psychological, economic, policy, and health care aspects of aging.

Family & Society Studies Worldwide (FSSW) Access research, policy and practice literature in the fields of Family Science, Human Ecology, Human Development, and Social Welfare.

Family Studies Abstracts *SOWK only Includes bibliographic records covering essential areas related to family studies, including marriage, divorce, family therapy, and other areas of key relevance to the discipline.

International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS) *SOWK only Indexes over 2,700 journals as well as books, reviews and selected chapters in the disciplines of anthropology, economics, political science and sociology.

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Canadian Parliamentary Publications Research Guide - University of Toronto Library.

Canadian Social Research Links - Created and maintained by Gilles Seguin, a former civil servant in the Social Policy Directorate of the Strategic Policy Branch in HRDC this site provides annotated social program and policy links.

Policy Library - The Policy Library website has policy papers and more on public, social, economic, and foreign policy; papers have been contributed by member institutes from around the world. Search the Policy Paper Database to find online policy papers on a topic, or browse the Resource Sites for a list of papers on a specific topic.

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Use the Library Catalogue to find books that contain references to social policy. There are several effective search methods for finding resources.

Select SUBJECT HEADING and in the search box, enter a Library of Congress Subject Heading such as: 

Canada-- Social Policy

Alberta -- Social Policy

Public Welfare -- Canada

Welfare State -- Canada

Social Security -- Canada

Government Policy

Canada -- Social Conditions

Social Movements -- Canada

To find books on social policy as it applies to a particular topic or group of people, use the ADVANCED KEYWORD search option. In the first search input box, enter a term related to your topic (e.g. daycare, employment insurance, women, first nations) and in the second search box enter a term related to social policy - this term could either be one from the subject headings list above or from the keyword list below (e.g. women—government policy; First Nations--housing).

 Following is a list of some of the more recently published books on social policy in Canada that can be found in the University of Lethbridge library (this is not an exhaustive list):

Books - General Social Policy

Social Policy in Canada / Ernie Lightman HN 103.5 L535 2003

An examination of the past, present, and future of Canadian social policy.

Connecting Policy to Practice in the Human Services / Brian Wharf and Brad McKenzie HN 107 W533 2004

The authors argue for a more inclusive approach to developing human services policy involving those individuals whose lives are affected by it.

Reimagining Social Welfare: Beyond the Keynesian Welfare State / James P. Mulvale. HV 108 M85 2001

This book investigates the responses of social policy advocacy organizations, feminists, and labour and other progressive movements to the downsizing and restructuring of the welfare state in Canada.

Books – Women and Social Policy

Public Policy for Women: The State, Income Security and Labour Market Issues / edited by Marjorie Griffin Cohen and Jane Pulkingham HQ 1236.5 C2 P82 2009

This book addresses public policy issues as they relate to the needs of women with particular attention to vulnerable populations of women. Issues discussed include single working mothers, prostitution, mandatory retirement, guaranteed income, and work for welfare.

Where are the Women? : Gender Equity, Budgets and Canadian public Policy / Janine Brodie and Isabella Bakker HQ 1236.5 C2 B75 2008

A discussion of how not only has the goal of gender equality not been met but the relentless attack on federal social programs over the past decade has actually undermined gender equity, as well as the well-being of Canadian women, especially the most vulnerable.

Books – Health and Social Policy

Community-based Programs and Policies : Contributions to Social Policy Development in Health Care and Health Care-Related Services / edited by Howard A. Palley RA 445 C6463 2009

This book was published as a special issue of Social work in public health in 2008. Includes bibliographical references and index.

Poverty and Policy in Canada : Implications for Health and Quality of Life / Dennis Raphael ; foreword by Jack Layton HC 120 P6 R36 2007

This book examines poverty in Canada and the structural influences of Canadian society, economics and politics on health inequities.

Books – Children and Social Policy

Child poverty and the Canadian Welfare State : From Entitlement to Charity / Shereen Ismael HQ 792 C3 I86 2006

This work reviews Canadian social policy reform, to understand the state of children’s welfare, Child Poverty and the Canadian Welfare State and argues that the welfare of poor children is a casualty of the war on the welfare state launched by opposing political ideologies.

Books – Economics and Social Policy

Differences That Matter : Social Policy and the Working Poor in the United States and Canada / Dan Zuberi HC 120 P6 Z83 2006

This book shines a spotlight on the causes and consequences of working poverty, revealing how the lives of low-wage workers are affected by differences in health care, labor, and social welfare policy in the United States and Canada.

Defining the Federal Government's Role in Social Policy: the Spending Power and other Instruments / with contributions by Hamish Telford, Peter Graefe and Keith Banting HN 103.5 T45 2008

Books – Multiculturalism and Social Policy

Welcoming Communities : Planning for Diverse Populations HM 1271 W37 2009

A collection of articles on planning for and supporting multicultural and diverse communities with case studies from across Canada.

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Materials from Other Libraries

Use our Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service if we do not own the item you are looking for. Submit your request through the ILL function and follow the instructions on the screen.

***If you are a Master of Social Work student studying at a distance, some additional interlibrary loan rules apply.

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Online Guides are available for help with everything from basic library research strategies to writing your research paper. The full listing is on our "How to" Guides page. Some examples:

Library Research Strategy

Evaluating Web Resources

Citation Guides

HELP is available during the hours that the Information & Research Assistance Desk on level 10 of the library is staffed, either at the desk itself, by Instant Messenger, email at AskUs, by telephone at 403-329-2263 or toll-free at 1-877-382-7113.

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 Maintained by
 Content Revised: October 2, 2014
 Content Created: February 9, 2010

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