In Reflections on Canadian Character: From Monarch Park to Monarch Mountain, Bob Couchman offers a critical examination of Canada's social-welfare state and its evolution. The story begins in the 1940s in Monarch Park, a working-class neighbourhood where the community provided assistance and care when people were in need, and government programs were viewed as a temporary helping hand for those who were destitute or suffering.
In the 1950s and 1960s, government expanded its social-welfare agenda and Canadian attitudes began to change. Social programs that were intended to provide short-term aid came to be viewed as a universal right, something all Canadians were entitled to, regardless of need or financial situation.
Couchman witnessed first-hand the effects of this shift away from collective responsibility and toward individual entitlement. While Canadians increasingly depend on government for aid, many programs fail to provide adequate support. Such failures, combined with the fundamental change in the character of Canadians, threaten our very future as a caring society.
Bob Couchman began his career as a youth social worker and teacher. He is best known as a social agency director, foundation president, former chair of Outward Bound Canada, and co-chair of the Canada Committee for the UN's International Year of the Family. He currently resides in Whitehorse where he is the director of the Yukon Family Services Association.