Social programs in Canada include all government programs designed to give assistance to people outside of what the market provides. The Canadian social safety net covers a broad spectrum of programs, and because Canada is a federation, many are run by the provinces.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 General Assembly resolution 217 A as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.
Included in this declaration was the requirement that the social safety net be introduced in Canada and it was but prior to April 17th 1982 these rights were not guaranteed.
Canadian law prior to April 17th 1982, law was for the public good and individuals were made to sacrifice their rights and freedoms for the greater good of society. If an enactment happened to remove an individuals of a right or freedom there was simply nothing much they could do about it.
For example the government appeared to honour Article 25. of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights! (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. <http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html>
What the people got was what the politicians decided was for the public good because there was nothing the private individual could do about it prior to the introduction of the Charter of Rights and freedoms on April 17th 1982. The private individual now has a way to protect his or her rights but that did not mean that the government threw in the towel and complied. It is up to the private individuals to tie up the courts and challenge them through charter s 24 but it will not happen before. It is much easier to fleece those in need of the Social Safety Net than to comply with the requirement that governments simply guaranteed your rights and protection to an adequate standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of yourself and of your family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond your control.
In fact section 33 of the Charter gives the politicans the authority to violate you rights as long as they are willing to stand behind their actions.
Both Parliament and provincial legislatures have a limited power under section 33 to pass laws that are exempt from certain Charter provisions – those concerning fundamental freedoms and legal and equality rights. This section is sometimes referred to as the "notwithstanding clause". From <http://www.pch.gc.ca/eng/1355344632007/1355344738223#a33>
 Prior to the Charter's advent, the individual really had no special means of protecting against incursions upon his or her basic fundamental rights by executive or legislative arm of the state,
 A primary purpose of the Charter was to change this relationship of the individual with the state and its laws by endowing individuals with an effective means of challenging acts of the state in courts on the ground of violation of their constitutionally protected rights and freedoms. This is accomplished through s. 24 of the Charter, in the first subsection of which anyone whose guaranteed rights or freedoms have been infringed or denied is empowered to apply to "a court of competent jurisdiction" for such remedy as is considered just and appropriate "in the circumstances". Section 24(2) goes on to specifically provide that that power extends to the exclusion of evidence if, "having regard to all the circumstances" its admission would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
Prior to the Constitution Act of 1982, an individual had no special means to protect fundamental rights and freedoms even if they were infringed upon. This will remain true until the Public demands Compliance with enactments that everyone is entitled to an adequate standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of everyone, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the events that could happen to any of us or in circumstances beyond our control.