Making Work Pay Better Than Welfare

An Early Look at the Self-Sufficiency Project

| Susanna Lui-Gurr, Sheila Currie Vernon, Tod Mijanovich

The Self-Sufficiency Project (SSP), a research and demonstration project conceived and funded by Human Resources Development Canada and managed by the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation, seeks a solution to two urgent and related social problems: the increasing poverty and welfare dependence of single-parent families. Unfortunately, efforts to alleviate one of these conditions have frequently exacerbated the other: When welfare benefits are raised in order to decrease poverty, dependence often grows. But when benefits are lowered in order to minimize dependence, families who remain dependent on public assistance fall deeper into poverty. 

This report is the first in the series on SSP. It describes the first year of SSP program operation, including the context and design of the project, the program implementation, the first-year research sample, program participation, and participants’ early responses to the program.