Lone Mothers’ Experiences of Inclusion and Exclusion in Atlantic Canada

Dr Christine Saulnier
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What is considered to be one of the most significant demographic changes in North America in decades has been an increase in the number of families headed by lone mothers. There are a half million lone mothers in Canada representing 4.2% of all family units.. Alarming evidence proves that single mothers and their children are some of the most marginalized people in Canadian, indeed North American, society, and thus vulnerable to poverty and ill health.

We are only beginning to understand the lived experience of lone mothers raising children on their own and the complexity of “choices” these mothers face. This presentation will present the findings from a qualitative study about lone mothers in four Atlantic Canadian provinces. This study uses social and economic inclusion/exclusions as the theoretical framework to understand their choices. As will be discussed, the neoliberal restructuring context and discourse of “breaking the cycle of dependency” that led to concomitant changes to eligibility and access requirements for social welfare programs have had a significant impact on lone mothers’s choices. Women raising their children alone who were once the last legitimate welfare recipients, and in many ways, lone mothers became a social experiment aimed at decreasing the state’s role in taking care of its most vulnerable citizens.

Keywords: Social and Economic Inclusion/Exclusion, Lone Mothers, Determinants of Health, Canada, Vulnerable Populations, Families
Stream: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Gender
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Lone Mothers’ Experiences of Inclusion and Exclusion in Atlantic Canada

Dr Christine Saulnier

Senior Research Officer, Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women's Health, Dalhousie University

My work at the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health and as adjunct professor in the Faculty of Health Professions at Dalhousie University, is focused on advancing health policy research that is gender-sensitive and more responsive to the diverse experiences of women as providers and recipients of care. I work with interdisciplinary and multisectoral research teams to develop a programme of work examining the social determinants of women’s health. In a region of Canada with striking health, social and economic disparities compared to the rest of the country, it is critical work to be investigating ways to re-frame and augment research and public policy development to help address these disparities and assist in the development of more equitable and responsive public policy. At the present time, my research interests include: social inclusion, social support, maternity care, women’s reproductive health, and family violence.

Ref: I06P0216