Dalhousie Law Journal


Canada, social transfer, welfare, CHST, policy, administrative law, constitutional law, judicial review


The Canadian Health and Social Transfer ("CHST"), which came into force on April 1, 1996, contains no national standards relating to the quality of social welfare. The goal of this new transfer was to promote provincial flexibility in the sphere of social policy. The author argues that this flexibility may undermine the core of the Canadian welfare state. Given the preoccupation of the provincial and federal governments with devolution, welfare recipients must turn to the judiciary to determine the "bottom line" of the welfare state. The author explores the various constitutional and administrative law grounds on which the federal government's spending power under the CHST could be constrained. He concludes that while judicial review may serve as a useful catalyst for reexamining the normative foundation of the Canadian welfare state (as it arguably has in the U.S. context), current administrative and constitutional jurisprudence make a successful challenge of the CHST unlikely.