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Canadian Public Health Association

Universal policies

Soup kitchen during the Great Depression
Soup kitchen during the Great Depression
Credit: Library and Archives Canada PA-168131

The term "universal" generally applies to benefits that are awarded solely on the basis of age, residence or citizenship, without reference to the recipient's income or assets. Universal programs for income maintenance, social welfare services and health care services have helped Canadians maintain a high standard of living and of health. The introduction of Old Age Security was a key factor in shifting the income of seniors in Canada from one of the lowest among industrialized countries in the 1970s to one of the highest today. The Canadian system of medicare - while far from perfect - remains the most popular social program in the country.

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